Former hard man Ron Gibbs'chilling admission as head knocks take toll


The Sydney Morning Herald

By Danny Weidler

February 22, 2020

 He was known as "Rambo" because of the way he played. He still is. But right now

"I think I was either concussed or knocked out in every second match I played," he said.

And it has taken its toll.

In an admission that should be praised and supported, Gibbs says: ‘‘I forget little things here and there, but it’s the mood swings – I get them. I try to stay level, but I’m right on [the edge] ... I mask it.

"People don’t know how you feel. Feeling wise, it’s not a very good thing. Maybe I should have done something years ago. Maybe I should do something now before it’s too late.

"I struggle with my emotions. It knocks the crappers out of you sometimes. I don’ tshow the emotions.

 I spend a lot of time on my own in the car for work so I don’t have to show my emotions, which is a good thing. But people may say it’s bad,

because I don’t share the way I am. I have to keep active. If I get sacked or don’t have goals, I’d be gone."

Gibbs’ reputation as one of league’s true tough guys stands to this day. In an era of hard men, Rambo stood toe to toe with all of them. He played 147 games for

of hard men, Rambo stood toe to toe with all of them.

He played 147 games for Easts, Manly, Gold Coast and Wests. He also had a stint in England with Castleford.

Ron Gibbs is attended to by a trainer after being knocked out playing for Manly in 1987.

Gibbs leaves the field after suffering another head knock playing for Wests in 1992. "At the time I played, I didn’t fear anyone or anything," he said. "And I wouldn’tchange that. I had targets in the game and I wanted to hit those players with everything.

I played at 89 kilograms in the forwards and that was my biggest problem."

Gibbs was part of the Indigenous All Stars staff on the Gold Coast last week. He works in rugby league throughout the bush and he still loves the game.

"League is my life, but I’ve read about the brain stuff ... the CTE [the neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy].

 "I’ve watched things on it. I played at the time of Steve Folkes. I know what I’mf acing."

The Sun-Herald revealed in July that Folkes was the first rugby league player diagnosed with CTE. He died in 2018 of a heart attack at the age of 59.

 Gibbs confronts the fear of CTE every day.  When he talks about daily life, it’s worrying.

"I look healthy," he said. "But I know I’m not. I hurt everywhere. Idon’t think there is a bone or muscle I have not hurt. I knew I would be like this later in life."

And his mind? "I’ve had a talk to my wife about my brain and while I have not signed up yet, I want to be able to help someone else," he said. "I want to donate

my brain.

And anything else from my body they may want. It’s what I have done throughout my life and I hope I can help with the investigation into CTE. I would

love to find a cure or help the next poor young bloke.

I will go and see a doctor. I am worried."Gibbs wore headgear throughout his career – but only because he was forced to.

"I didn’t wear it at the start, but [Roosters club doctor] Neil Halpin said I had to,"Gibbs said. "I said to him, ‘I’m not wearing no helmet’. He said, ‘Well, you won’t be playing’. 

It felt good and I still got knocked around, but I reckon I would have been 10 times worse than I am today.".

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