RUGBY players should start missing games in order to protect them from long-term brain injuries.

That is the call, in the wake of former Wales captain Ryan Jones' early-onset dementia diagnosis, from a group representing former players that campaigns for safety improvements in the game.

The 41-year-old Jones, capped 75 times and a member of the British and Irish Lions squad on the 2005 tour of New Zealand, revealed he had received the diagnosis of probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in December last year.

He is the latest in a number of high-profile former players to be diagnosed with the disease and now Progressive Rugby – a non-profit rugby union lobby group – has called for action.

It said in a statement: “Ryan Jones is the latest high-profile player to reveal this devastating diagnosis, but sadly he won’t be the last.

“We commend Ryan’s bravery for speaking out on behalf of the numerous other players in the professional and amateur game who are still coming to terms with the brutal impact brain injury is having on their life.

“The focus must now be on learning the lessons and ensuring that current and future players are protected from the same debilitating fate.

“It is time for everybody involved in the game to prioritise individual player welfare. If that means protocols erring on the side of caution and players being rested and missing games, it is a small price to pay to try and protect the long-term health of its participants.

“We can, and must, make the game of rugby union as safe as possible so that future generations aren’t deprived of all the wonderful things it can offer.”

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In an emotional interview with the Sunday Times, Jones revealed he fears for his future.

He said: “I feel like my world is falling apart.

“I am really scared because I’ve got three children and three step-children and I want to be a fantastic dad.

“I lived 15 years of my life like a superhero and I’m not. I don’t know what the future holds.”

After being diagnosed with depression Jones, who retired in 2015, said he began to have short-term memory problems and was becoming forgetful.

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