Collingwood CEO Craig Kelly has assured fans that premiership defender Nathan Murphy is fit to continue his AFL career, emphasising the importance of player welfare.

Murphy has suffered 10 concussions throughout his career, with the most recent coming in the Pies' Grand Final win during the first quarter. His playing career was up in the air after the Grand Final but he was cleared to play football just before the Christmas break by an expert concussion medical panel.

Concussions are now a forefront concern among footballers and clubs, with head trauma becoming a serious aspect of the game with stronger protocols and more attention around player welfare. This has seen an increase in players being forced to retire due to suffering from several concussions, with the likes of Paddy McCartin, Marcus Adams and Paul Seedsman all stepping away from the game last year on medical advice.

The decision for Murphy to be allowed to continue his AFL career has had mixed responses, with journalist Mark Robinson questioning why Nathan Murphy is still playing, writing in the Herald Sun that "the defender is risking his future for this game."

Kelly has insisted to the public that the Collingwood medical staff have made the right decision and that the 24-year-old is not jeopardising his health to play footy.

"With all the clubs, but with our club, our want to look after our athlete, make sure they're safe, make sure there's a safe working environment, is paramount," Kelly told media on Tuesday, via 

"If anyone says anything different, they just don't have all the information.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 13: Nathan Murphy of the Magpies marks the ball during the round 13 AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Melbourne Demons at Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 13, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

"Ruben Branson, our doctor, is one of the best doctors in Australia in regard to sport, if not the world. The AFL system, the AFL doctors and what we're looking at and learning about this concussion moment in our game, that's happening around the world, is led by amazing doctors.

"The process of what Nathan went through, with his family, with the club, with the coaches, for him to make an informed decision to want to do the job he loves, everything's been done.

"This is a really important point – I can't ask any of you, and wouldn't ask any of you, about your medical history. This is a person's life, so I'm not going to disclose what happens with the conversations with the doctors, with confidential information we share in a very tight group of people.

"All you need to know is the amazing doctors and people have worked with all of us to get an informed decision. You're not privy, and we shouldn't share anything else with you. It's not what we do.

"There's a plan in place for every player in the AFL, in regard to concussion and how we deal with it, depending on the circumstances. My son's had five or six (concussions), he plays for Essendon. It's not much fun for him, or Nathan, or anyone who has it.

"So we have to have circumstances developed for every individual player to look after them. It's no one rule, it's a matter of dealing with the information that we get, when we get it."

Kelly noted that Murphy's playing status may change based on future events. But Murphy will most likely line up for the Pies in the Opening Round clash against GWS on Saturday, March 9 at GIANTS Stadium.