Gympie Devils under 18 players leave a muddy Crusher Park.
Gympie Devils under 18 players leave a muddy Crusher Park. Contributed

Infections blamed on boggy oval

RUGBY league players and their families are calling on the Sunshine/Coast Gympie Rugby League to ban all games at Nambour's Crusher Park in wet weather.

The call comes after at least eight Devils players broke out in rashes and badly infected sores after playing matches on the muddy field.

Gympie A-grade players Ben Santowski and Danny McMah were two of the players affected by a pimply rashes and infected cuts.

Their doctors think they were staph infections.

Reserve grade player Mitch Hillcoat was diagnosed with a staph infection on his knees and elbows after the game, and teammate Trent Lovett was also covered in an undiagnosed rash.

The health scare is not the first to hit Crusher Park.

In 2009, The Gympie Times' sister publication The Sunshine Coast Daily reported on Caboolture A-grade players Matt Morris and Nik Taylor.

They were diagnosed with the infection after playing the Crushers in similar boggy conditions.

On the same weekend Caboolture reserve grade player Jess Osborn also contracted a staph infection in three of his fingers while teammate John Saunders was off work for three days with an infected knee.

In 2005, former Kawana Dolphins player Steve Hodder underwent four operations on his right arm after he picked up golden staph through an elbow graze.

MR Santowski's mother, Nancy Santowski said something needed to be done.

“Something is going on, the league needs to address the issue,” Mrs Santowski said.

She claims players have been getting infections on the field for years and thinks it might have something to do with recycled water used to irrigate the field.

Nambour uses class B treated effluent to irrigate the field.

“When we got to the ground we started watching reserve grade,” Mrs Santowski said.

“It was that muddy you couldn't tell which team was which.”

She said there was so much water lying around, Nambour officials had put out wooden planks for the players to get to the field and to the dressing sheds.

“The water smelt,” Mrs Santowski said.

“It had a stagnant water smell, it smelt off,” she said.

After the game Mr Santowski and his teammates were covered in mud and went to the showers to clean up. Later that night he became sick.

“His finger (with a cut) swelled up immediately,” Mrs Santowski said.

“Then a rash came up all over his body.

“We convinced him to go to the hospital the next day. He didn't want to go but when we got there, there were four other players already at the hospital,” she said.

Devils centre Danny McMah was one of the other players.

He said he had infections after playing on Crusher Park in the past and took precautions before and after the game.

“I put Betadine on my knees and elbows before the game and had an antiseptic bath after the game,” Mr McMah said.

“When I woke up in the morning a pimply rash had broken out on my legs, elbows and forearms,” he said.

Mr McMah then went to the hospital and received an antiseptic wash to treat the condition.

Not happy with the diagnosis he then went to a GP who gave him antibiotics and took a swab to determine what the infection was.

“She thinks it's a staph infection,” Mr McMah said. “Staph infections aren't good. Something is not right at the field,” he said.

Nambour Rugby League pressident Ray Madsen says he doesn't think there is a problem with the field.

He said the club had only used recycled water on the field a couple of times this year due to the wet season.

“The field was under water during the floods,” Mr Madsen said.

He said the health concerns about the field had been an ongoing saga around the coast, but no one had come up with any proof to substantiate their claims.

“We have over 100 senior players and 250 junior players on the field every week,” Mr Madsen said.

“We don't have any problems. If someone gets a cut they go straight to first aid and get it treated,” he said.

Mr Madsen said a lot of players' personal hygiene left a lot to be desired in this day and age.

“It's a hygiene issue,” Mr Madsen said.

“I have spoken to numerous people in infection control and they say to me it is a hygiene issue.

“Hygiene is highly important playing in muddy conditions,” he said.

Gympie Times

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