Rugby players to get cardiac tests in wake of heart scare

Bradford has welcomed plans to roll out a cardiac screening programme across all Super League rugby clubs as centre Adrian Purtell continues his recovery from a heart attack.

The Bulls have confirmed the 27-year-old suffered a heart attack within hours of playing in Sunday’s derby against Leeds at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium.

The Australian was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary after being taken ill on the team bus back to Yorkshire and underwent surgery to unblock an artery.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Purtell was said to be “feeling much better” yesterday but is expected to remain in coronary care for the rest of the week to undergo further tests.

A cardiac risk screening programme for young rugby league players attending national camps has been in operation for nine years but the Super League clubs last week agreed to bring in a similar scheme for senior players.

Purtell’s health scare has brought back memories of the tragic death of Wakefield players Leon Walker and Adam Watene, who passed away from heart-related problems within six months of each other in 2008-09, and made last week’s decision even more relevant, according to Bradford football manager Stuart Duffy.

“It’s fantastic, especially in light of what’s happened to Adrian, although of course it’s not a reaction to it,” said Duffy. “Had we had this before, we might well have known about Adrian’s condition. It’s going to be really beneficial and a real asset to the game.”

Purtell complained of feeling unwell after Sunday’s game, which was played in soaring temperatures, and received treatment from the club’s medical staff on the journey home.

Bradford say they were unable to initially comment on Purtell’s condition until receiving his permission due to patient confidentiality.

However, the player’s mother Fran Purtell broke the news to an Australian newspaper just before catching a flight to England to be at her son’s bedside.

Duffy said: “Adrian had an immediate primary angioplasty to remove the blockage in his artery but both the club and the player wish to point out that at no time did he suffer a cardiac arrest.

“His heart did not stop beating and he was conscious throughout the journey to hospital.

“Adrian is feeling much better today but will remain in hospital for the next few days for further tests.

“The Bulls would like to thank the club’s medical team, Dr Donald Young, physiotherapist Jamie Moseley and head of conditioning Geoff Evans for their treatment of Adrian and in particular the staff at both the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and the Leeds General Infirmary for their expert care of Adrian.

Purtell, who is in his first season in Super League after joining the Bulls from Penrith Panthers, issued a statement through the club thanking everyone for their best wishes.