Rugby-All Black Barrett showing positive signs after latest head knock

FILE PHOTO: Autumn International - Ireland v New Zealand
FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Autumn International - Ireland v New Zealand - Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland - November 13, 2021 New Zealand's Beauden Barrett during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

March 28, 2022

(Reuters) – All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett is showing positive signs in his recovery from his latest head knock over the weekend, with no ongoing symptoms of concussion, Auckland Blues head coach Leon MacDonald said on Monday.

Barrett was forced off in the Blues’ Super Rugby victory over the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday, weeks after saying he feared his career was over due to concussion symptoms.

The 30-year-old, who recently returned to action following a concussion suffered against Ireland in November, was taken off in the 41st minute after a collision with Highlanders centre Fetuli Paea and is currently in recovery protocols.

“There is a mandatory (10-day) stand-down period when you get a bang to the head which he’s going to sit out. The early signs are positive — other than a mangled up face, he’s come out pretty well,” MacDonald told reporters.

“He’s got a sore neck and he’s not too happy about that, but he’s looking pretty good at the moment, which is promising.”

Concussions and their potential long-term health impact have been in the spotlight since former players filed a class-action lawsuit against governing bodies including World Rugby in 2020, alleging a failure to minimise the risks.

MacDonald said the Blues had played it safe with twice World Player of the Year Barrett.

“We were extra cautious in the way we brought Beauden back (earlier this season). We didn’t push him in early, we gave him extra time to make sure he was really comfortable, that it was completely gone and he felt good,” MacDonald said.

“Even this injury now, it’s not major … He doesn’t have any concussion symptoms as such.

“We want to look after our players’ welfare … we want them playing a long career and not just next week.”

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)