Opals coach urges Rachel Jarry to put health first

Australian Opals coach Sandy Brondello has urged Canberra Capitals star Rachel Jarry to put her health first and avoid rushing a return to basketball.
Nanjing Night Net

Jarry’s seventh career concussion saw her stretchered from the venue and taken to hospital during Canberra’s drought-breaking WNBL win over the Dandenong Rangers on Saturday night.

Play was halted for almost 20 minutes as paramedics were called, and Jarry will now spend a few days in Melbourne with family before returning to Canberra to be assessed by AIS medical staff.

The 26-year-old concedes she won’t play again this season as she prepares for a possible six-month stint on the sidelines which would rub her out of Commonwealth Games contention.

But Jarry says she felt much better on Sunday morning, taking the chance to reach out to everyone that had her in their thoughts.

“Thanks for all the concern and well wishes. I’m alright, I’m in good hands with the doctors and everything so I’ll be fine,” Jarry said.

Jarry will have extensive neuropyschological testing at the end of the season to monitor concussion symptoms.

The 26-year-old told The Canberra Times in November the lack of knowledge about the long-term effects of concussion is “worrying” but she had no plans to change her hard-nosed style.

Brondello says Jarry’s “body on the line” approach is “just the way she plays” but the Opals mentor has implored the Capitals forward to ease into the recovery process.

“With anyone, their health is the most important thing,” Brondello said.

“Coming back from injuries or coming back from a hit in the head – I know she had a recent concussion too – that’s the most important thing, your overall wellbeing.

“I think everyone – her club, her coaches, the Opals, Basketball Australia – they’re all concerned about the individual and making sure they come back at the right time.

“You don’t want to risk anything with your health so hopefully Rachel is doing okay. She will take her time, there’s no rush. She needs to do what the doctors tell her and then feel comfortable out there.”

The WNBL concussion policy was approved by the Australian Basketballers Association and requests any concussion must be reported, and any player must be cleared by an official club doctor before returning to training or play.

Brondello says she has seen “a few, but not many” concussions during her time in basketball and she was very surprised to learn Jarry has suffered seven.

“It just shows what a competitor she is. She’s not afraid of the contact and it really is unfortunate,” Brondello said.

“Everywhere has concussion protocols, it’s no different to the WNBA. There’s a few but not many, but it does still happen.

“They say it’s a non-contact sport but it really is, it’s a very physical sport and it’s how it’s played. It’s incidental contact and it’s just unfortunate, it’s through the nature of the game with the aggressiveness that there is.

“No one ever wants to see that. It’s talked about a lot in the NFL in America and I’m sure it’s talked about in other sports here too.

“It does happen, it’s such a serious thing so you have to make sure the player is healthy and everything is fine before they get back to doing anything.”

The loss of the WNBA and WNBL champion is a cruel blow for a struggling Capitals outfit, albeit one that got a much-needed confidence boost with a stunning win on Saturday.

Jarry’s absence opens the door for Chevannah Paalvast to play extended minutes in the final five games of the year, beginning against Bendigo on Thursday night.


Thursday: Bendigo Spirit v Canberra Capitals at Bendigo Stadium, 7pm.

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