Cardiac screening welcomed by Keighley player’s widow

The widow of former Keighley and Wales half-back Danny Jones has welcomed an announcement that compulsory cardiac screening is to be rolled out to Championship and League 1 players.

Lizzie Jones with twins Bobby and Phoebe, flanked by (from left) Jason Donohue (Kingstone Press Championship champions Leigh Centurions), Neil Cullen (League 1 leaders Keighley Cougars), Mike Rush (First Utility Super League champions St Helens) and RFL Chairman Brian Barwick.

Screening has been compulsory for all players in Super League since 2012 but it will now be extended across all three professional divisions from 2016.

Details of the plan were outlined at the Rugby Football League’s annual meeting in Leigh which was attended by Lizzie Jones, whose husband collapsed and died from heart failure triggered by an undetected heart defect while playing for the Cougars against London Skolars in May.

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“I would like to congratulate all the Championship and League 1 clubs on their decision to conduct cardiac screening with their players,” said Lizzie, who was given a standing ovation by delegates.

“Anything the game can do to minimise the chance of another family experiencing what we have gone through has to be welcomed.

“I would also like to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone involved in rugby league for the support they have given to me, my twins and my family. We couldn’t have got through this without you all.

“We are enormously grateful for everything you have done for us, it’s been overwhelming. The support of the rugby league family has given us the strength to rebuild our lives without Danny.”

RFL chairman Brian Barwick said: “It was very moving to hear Lizzie speak so eloquently about her life since the tragic loss of Danny and we were pleased that she was able to attend the meeting.

“The clubs are very supportive of the cardiac screening programme and of the need to do all they can to protect their players’ welfare.”

The Just Giving page set up by the RFL Benevolent Fund to help Lizzie Jones and her family has already received donations of over £222,000.