Litigation A New Football Risk
'Australian Footballer Faces Trial On Tackle' The Courier-Mail 1/9/1999

A RUGBY league player was left with a fractured neck after being tackled by an opponent, it was alleged in the Brisbane District Court yesterday.

A jury was hearing a case against Shaun Lawrence Taylor who is charged with causing grievous bodily harm to Warren Petty, 26, during a lower division rugby league game.

The trial heard Petty allegedly suffered a serious neck injury during a match last year between his team Banyo and Taylor's team Balmoral. It was alleged Taylor caused the Injury when he tackled Petty during the game at the Banyo rugby league grounds in northern Brisbane.

Taylor, 23, pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to Petty on March 7 last year.

Orthopaedic surgeon Paul Pincus, who examined Petty on March 25, told the court he believed Petty fractured his neck as a result of the tackle. He was led, to the conclusion by symptoms Petty described he had after the match and after examining a CT scan of the injury. Dr. Pincus said that without treatment Petty would have suffered permanent injury to his health.

Cross-examined by barrister Dan Boyle, for Taylor, Dr Pincus said fractures of the neck usually did not occur in legal tackles but he conceded there could be circumstances where they could occur.

Touch judge Sean Sutcliffe told the court he was the only official touch judge on duty for the match. He said he saw a Banyo player on the ground attempting to rise as if to play the ball when a Balmoral player came in.

Sutcliffe said the Balmoral player appeared to hit the Banyo player with a forearm and he ran straight on to the field to talk with the referee. The Balmoral player was sent from the field for 10 minutes while the Banyo player received treatment.

"It wasn't a flopping type motion you sometimes see in tackles where players flop down on someone," Sutcliffe said.

Cross-examined by Mr Boyle, Sutcliffe said he was not certain where the initial point of contact had been. However, he was sure it was somewhere from the back of the shoulder blades up to the back of the top of the head. Sutcliffe told Mr Boyle he made no recommendation to the referee about a sin-bin or send-off because it was not his job to make such decisions.

Dr Richard Slaughter, who examined a CT scan of Petty's Injury, told the court he found a fracture of the vertebrae at the junction of the neck and chest. He said it was not surprising that such a fracture could have been missed by an earlier conventional X-ray.

Under cross examination from Mr Boyle, Dr Slaughter said he would describe as "minor" the separation of bones which the scan revealed.

The trial continues.