Delisted Saint Paddy McCartin has revealed he cheated on pre-season concussion tests to boost his chances of returning to the field later in the year.
The former No. 1 pick mutually agreed to depart St Kilda on Monday to focus on his health after a suffering series of concussions throughout his 35-game career.
He has not played since the 2019 pre-season when he copped his most recent head knock and eighth overall.
McCartin said he deliberately underperformed when undergoing baseline tests carried out at every club before the season.
“I think some of the stuff that we do earlier in the season, baseline testing and these computer things, you can bludge your way through it if you want to,” he told SEN.
“It’s your baseline, so it’s what you are at the start of the season when you’re fine.
“And I’ve done this before … because I’ve had so many concussions, especially early in my career (so) I’m sort of worried about missing games because I was worried about what people think about me and all that kind of crap.
“I’ve done the testing worse on purpose, so that if I do my baseline (testing) again I’m starting from a worse spot than I would before.”
Asked if he thinks other players would deliberately underperform, McCartin declared: “I would say so.
“If I was doing it, then probably other people would too. Maybe I was the only one, but probably not.”
He added that players are better educated of how to deal with concussion nowadays.
“It’s just this weird concept that people want to push themselves past concussion,” he said.
“It’s not a stigma but it’s something that’s been around forever … it’s just this reputation that it has around it that ‘oh well, if you get hit in the head just get up and keep going’.
“I think a lot of that is changing but there’s still some of it around.
“The AFL has done a good job but I think but I think definitely there’s guys that have probably played when they’re still struggling a bit.”