FORMER Workington Town prop forward has joined 10 other former players in suing the RFL for negligence.

They claim negligence over the RFL’s failure to protect them from brain injuries caused by concussion during their careers.

McDonald, 43, played 317 games between 1998 and 2015, they included 51 games for Workington Town and 42 for Whitehaven.

Ryan was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (or CTE), a progressive brain injury which gets worse with age, by a neurologist.

“I try not to get upset but I know it’s only going to get worse.

"It started with silly little things," he said, "like I would go to the shop and forget what I had gone there for, so I would be walking around aimlessly wondering why I was there, just silly things like that, just like forgetfulness and then you start getting anxiety attacks and things like that.

"It's really weird to describe. To be fair it makes you agitated because you can't do simple tasks you should just be able to do without thinking about.

"It's early days at the moment so I don't even want to think about what the long-term implications will be... touch wood it wont affect me too bad."

"You can see the physical scares on you but the mental scares people don't see that, and we have got to be mindful of that."

Ryan also told of the effect that the condition has had on him and his family since he stopped playing rugby.

He said: "If I am in one of them dark places, you just take it out on your nearest and dearest. It's hard to explain to them what the issues are, you want to shield them from stuff like that."

The former Town player told of the lack of aftercare he received: "I can honestly say from my last game I played, it was like a lightbulb being switched off – it was like 'you're no good to us, you're at the end of your time, see ya later' – and there wasn't even a 'see ya later', to be fair, you're just cast aside.

"There is no aftercare from your clubs or the league or anything."

Lawyers say the players are all suffering from “neurological complications” and they are now planning a legal claim against the RFL for negligence.

A spokesman for the Rugby Football League said: “The Rugby Football League has recently been contacted by solicitors representing a number of former players.

"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.”