herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Leinster boss Leo Cullen mindful of concussion dangers

Kevin McLaughlin has been forced to retire due to concussion
Kevin McLaughlin has been forced to retire due to concussion

Leinster coach Leo Cullen is mindful of the dangers of concussion, but it hasn’t always been the case.

“I remember myself when I was younger I had a concussion where I was completely conscious the whole time,” he said.

“But I actually had memory loss for a period of the game and post the game.

“I went into hospital and stayed overnight.”

Cullen’s player and good friend Kevin McLaughlin was forced to end his career prematurely last week on the advice of a neurologist.

Former Leinster hookers Bernard Jackman and John Fogarty have talked at length about how concussion invaded their lives and destroyed their careers back in 2010.

The Grenoble coach Jackman went into great detail in his autobiography.

“I was aware of the process he was going through,” said Cullen.  “I read the book. There was definitely a different attitude towards it back then.”

Fate

Leinster’s current scrum coach Fogarty suffered a similar fate to Jackman.    

“I don’t think he would have had the supports. The awareness certainly would not have been there,” said Cullen.

There is the suggestion that the macho, hard-man world of professional rugby was not exactly an environment in which any display of weakness was viewed as a virtue.

“I don’t know if it was a weakness. It was a lack of understanding that was the biggest thing,” stated Cullen.  

“People are slowly getting a greater understanding of the potential knock-on effects.”

Concussion is, oftentimes, hidden from sight as an invisible enemy and this is where players have to take responsibility for their actions and reactions.

“You can’t see it,” he offered. “That is the biggest challenge. Players need to be very honest with how they deal with their own symptoms.”

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