Former Scotland international Jason Roach is to pursue legal action against rugby authorities claiming they failed to protect players from the risk of neurological conditions including dementia.

The 50-year-old, who has been diagnosed with early onset dementia, is among ten players planning to launch a group action against the Rugby Football League.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the former players say there is a ‘ticking timebomb’ of potentially hundreds of former rugby league players, who as they reach their 40s and 50s, are developing various neurological issues, such as early onset dementia, CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), Epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease and Motor Neurone Disease.

CTE was discovered by Dr Benet Omalu in American football player Mike Webster and was the subject of the 2015 movie, Concussion, starring Will Smith. It is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma and often athletes.

The former players allege that the RFL did not take reasonable steps to protect their safety by " stablishing and implementing rules in respect of the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of actual or suspected concussive and sub-concussive injuries".

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Mr Roach 50, was also diagnosed with probable CTE after developing symptoms including memory loss 10-12 years ago.

He said: "One time I got into trouble with the police.

"I was arrested seven days after an incident in my car, but when the police knocked on my door, I had no recollection of it happening.

"They told me that I’d gone into the back of a car, threatened the other driver, and then driven off.

"The policeman said to me, ‘you’re either the best liar in the world, or you didn’t do it.’ I pleaded guilty, but to this day I can’t remember a thing.

“I forget where I’ve parked my car and have to check I’ve locked the doors a hundred times to make sure.

The Herald:

"Sometimes I’ll be making coffee and realise I’ve put two spoons in the cup. Why would I do that? These aren’t major things, but they make me feel anxious about the future. I’ve got a 10-month old daughter and need to look after her.”

“I used to be the life and soul, but because of the forgetfulness I’ve retreated into my shell. I was a nervous wreck getting the train because I don’t do public transport anymore. I’ve become quite reclusive. I just go to work, come home, have the odd drink in my garden.”

He said he can still remember the first time he suffered concussion.

“I was playing for St Helens against Bradford at Christmas. I took the ball up from the kick-off, was cleaned out, then just sat down on my backside.

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"I played on until half-time. I wasn’t out cold, but the lads said I was singing Christmas carols on the bench in the second half. I was taken to hospital, where I rang my partner of two years, and she said we’d split up a few weeks earlier. I had no idea. I was in tears in the hospital in my Saints kit.”

It comes after a ground-breaking University of Glasgow study found former professional footballers had a three-fold risk of developing neurological conditions and had a five-fold risk of Alzheimer's Disease.

New findings from the same study, which was led by Professor Willie Stewart, published last year found that the risk of dementia was five times higher for defenders, who are more likely to head the ball.

The findings prompted the SFA to ban headers in young players under the age of 12 but some experts have called for them to be eliminated completely from the sport.

Scotland was the first nation to adopt concussion guidelines for all sports in 2015.

The players raising the action say it isn't just about financial compensation but about making the game safer.

They want the RFL to implement a number of immediate changes to save the sport including contact in training and extending the return to play.

Sports Law Partner Richard Boardman said: "The vast majority of the former players we represent love the game and don’t want to see it harmed in any way.

"Younger players such as Stevie Ward, Rob Burrow and Sam Burgess have spoken publicly about their own brain damage, so these issues aren’t restricted to older generations."

“The Rugby Football League has recently been contacted by solicitors representing a number of former players.

A spokesman for the RFL said: "The RFL takes player safety and welfare extremely seriously, and has been saddened to hear about some of the former players’ difficulties.  

"Rugby League is a contact sport and while there is an element of risk to playing any sport, player welfare is always of paramount importance.

"As a result of scientific knowledge, the sport of Rugby League continues to improve and develop its approach to concussion, head injury assessment, education, management and prevention across the whole game.

"We will continue to use medical evidence and research to reinforce and enhance our approach.”