IT has been a huge week for rugby league, with ten former players, including ex-Super League stars and internationals, planning to sue the RFL for negligence after claiming the sport has left them with brain damage.

And the news is of interest to Bradford Salem head coach Neil Spence, who was part of a group of ex-rugby union players that joined a lawsuit against their code last year for the same thing.

Spence is only in his mid-40s, but he is living with early onset dementia, which he and his fellow former union stars claim is as a result of concussions picked up while playing the sport they love.

Discussing this week’s news, Spence said: “I think it’s important that rugby union and rugby league come together on this, as they’re both contact sports, and the same game in essence.

“I still love the game, but it’s about making it safer for those new to the sport, or still playing it now.

“Things are slowly improving, and from our side at Salem, if one of the lads goes down or off with a head injury, we tell them they’re not allowed to carry on until they feel better, even if they think they’re okay.”

Talking about living with early onset dementia, 10 months on from our last conversation on the topic, Spence said: “Some days are good and some are bad, and certainly when I’m tired, that seems to exacerbate it.

“The other week, I got up for work, showered, and got the kids ready for school.

“But then I went to get back in the shower again, as I’d forgotten I’d already had one, and it was only my wife reminding me that stopped me having a second.

“I can remember things from years ago, and my kids ask how I manage that with my dementia, but it’s my short-term memory that it really affects.”

Spence should have been busy preparing for a huge bottom of the table clash at home to Goole in Yorkshire One today, but a Covid crisis has put paid to that one.

He said: “We’ve had seven lads test positive for Covid, so we’ve had to get dispensation to call the game off.

“We’re hoping to play it a week on Saturday, as it will take precedence over the cup game we’re due to have against Thornensians.

“It’s concerning and frustrating, knowing Covid could affect us and other teams in the weeks to come, but it’s out of our control.

“We’ve erred on the side of caution, and haven’t trained all week, but we’re hoping to get back to it on Thursday.”

Salem have only won one of their seven league games so far this season, but in their defence, they have suffered dreadful luck with injuries.

Spence is proud of how his young side have acquitted themselves in trying circumstances, but admitted the last few weeks have been tough.

He said: “A lot of them are long-term injuries. Ben Whitaker and Christian Baines are due to be out until after Christmas for example.

“Christian has to have a cartilage operation and he’s such a huge loss, as our captain and biggest ball-carrier.

“If we can get key players back in the coming months though, I’d still like us to try and finish in mid-table.”

There are other rugby union games in the Bradford District set to go ahead today, even if Salem versus Goole isn't one of them.

In North One East, Bradford & Bingley are due to visit league leaders Ilkley, while Cleckheaton look to continue their good home form with a win over Heath.

In Yorkshire Two, leaders Keighley host Northallerton, while Baildon entertain near-neighbours Yarnbury. Old Grovians are on the road at Leeds Corinthians.

Finally, in Yorkshire Three, Wibsey are due to visit Old Otliensians.