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Saturday 3 December 2016

Concussion scares me says Triggs

Leinster's Hayden Triggs
Leinster's Hayden Triggs

The sight of Mike McCarthy getting knocked out for Ireland sent a cold shiver of fear through Hayden Triggs.

"Aw look, I'll be honest, I'm scared about it," said the Leinster lock.

"When I saw Macca go down and for him to go off on a stretcher. Normally if you get a concussion, they sit you up, feel your neck and then you walk off.

"But he's on a stretcher, man, with his neck tied down.

"Talking to the lads who are back from Irish camp, he seems normal, well, Mad Macca normal."

The introduction of humour was understandable for a family man playing, working to make a better life.

"That's scary. I've got kids. I've got a wife. I'm on the other side of world from home.

"I don't want that to happen to me."

The macho nature of rugby means 'big boys don't cry.'

"For eighty minutes of the week, I don't think about it," he said.

"As a rugby player, when the whistle blows, you're in a different zone.

"At training, we smash each other on two days of the week.

"If you're not in the team, you're trying to get in the team. It's physical. You don't want to get injured when you're not playing the game.

"In review, when you're watching your defence, or someone else's, you see some pretty ugly things, some pretty scary things."

Personal damage is often put on the back-burner in behind the damage it would do to the game.

"Throughout the history of rugby all you ever hear is 'put your body on the line', 'bleed for your brother'. I'm from the old school. You do that.

"A concussion is not a new thing but it is probably in the spotlight right now.

"There are soft tissue injuries in every game and there are joint injuries in every game, but they don't seem to get the spotlight like concussion does.

"I will be honest. I'm scared about it."

It seems every week at every level there is a player sitting under a cloud of concussion. There was Keith Earls last week; McCarthy this week.

"Concussion is getting more and more of an issue. You can't escape it now," said the Kiwi.

It really hits home when it happens close to home.

"We had a scary one," he said. "A mate of mine back home, Ben Afeaki, he clashed heads with Brodie Retallick in a Super game. His career is done because of it.

"Brodie Retallick was in the same impact and he continued to be World Player of the Year."

Triggs has noticed how any contact to the head is policed with super-sensitive medical observation at Leinster.

Focus

"I took a knock to the head just in a ruck (against Zebre) and I kind of rubbed my head.

"Straight away, the doc's over: 'are you alright, are you feeling okay, how do you feelin?' I'm just like 'leave me alone'. But that's the focus."

There is an interesting difference in the use of language between the northern and southern hemisphere in that Europeans talk-up the collision, the best in the world focus on contact.

"People up here focus more on the collision. We try to avoid contact down there," he said.

"I know that sounds silly but whenever you talk about a ball carrier going into contact, you try to pick a weak shoulder or get a step around the outside shoulder.

"I don't want to say the coaches tell us to look for a collision, like, we're all trying to do the same thing.

"Don't get me wrong, head knocks are happening down there.

"It is happening everywhere."

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