Connacht captain Craig Clarke has been forced into an "indefinite" break from rugby after suffering his tenth concussion in 22 months, it has emerged today.
The 30-year-old Kiwi joined the westerners last year from the Chiefs of Super Rugby. He suffered his most recent concussions in the 64-6 defeat away to Saracens on January 18, and in the Pro12 match against Leinster on January 4. His other concussions were suffered in the Southern Hemisphere.
Coach Pat Lam confirmed the player's exclusion but remained hopeful of his eventual return.
"Craig has had his tenth concussion in 22 months, so he is a big concern. At this stage he is going to be unavailable indefinitely, until there is a bit more testing and so forth.
It is obviously a big blow for us but you can just not mess around with that sort of situation... I had a player before who has had that as well, Benson Stanley, and he was considering retiring and (he) was thinking about stepping down. But through timing and treatment and rest he got through and he is playing at Clermont now, so we are hopeful,”
Clarke's sidelining comes on the same day that the Aviva Premiership's longest-serving player, Andy Hazell, was forced into retirement after failing to recover from a concussion-related injury. The 34-year-old enjoyed a 17-year career with Gloucester.
As we reported last week, with Paul O'Connell's memories, or lack thereof, of his concussion-affected Irish debut, the topic of head injuries in rugby is becoming an area of increasing debate and concern.
H/T The Score