Tom's Tour Diary
Concussion in the spotlight
Tom Hamilton in Auckland
June 4, 2014
Kieran Read's case has dominated the news agenda in New Zealand ©

As we sat on the ferry to Devenport earlier in the day, you could be forgiven for confusing New Zealand's winter with one of the more balmy days of English summer. The weather is simply glorious but there are storm clouds on the horizon for rugby.

The issue of concussion is now front-page news in New Zealand with today's Herald carrying a picture of the world's best player Kieran Read with the headline 'All Blacks: What a knockout'.

Read was knocked out back in April and played his first game back on Saturday when he ran out for the Crusaders against the Western Force.But after a reoccurrence of the symptoms, he will sit out the first Test on Saturday.

The risks of concussion have been frequently reported throughout last season back in England and the Kiwi press is currently dominated by the issue. Saturday's Herald had a double-page spread featuring Shontayne Hape's extremely personal experiences of concussion and the side effects. It was emotive and wonderfully written.

Today's Herald is strongly focused on Read, his own concussion and the wider ramifications for his career. Concussion is not a topic to be taken lightly and for their columnist Dana Johannsen, she feels it is time Read was stood down and given a prolonged rest, in part for his health and also as a message to the game as a whole.

The column concludes: "Having Read spend an extended stint on the sideline will hopefully prompt those young players and weekend warriors who believe playing on after a head knock is a badge of honour to adjust their thinking."

Alongside Read, news of Connacht's Craig Clarke's retirement has also hit these shores. The former Chiefs captain sustained 10 concussions in 22 months, a shocking tally.

When asked about the issue of concussion and the potential life-changing ramifications, All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick did admit it was a concern when talking to the press on Tuesday.

"To be out with concussion is definitely frustrating, but it's probably more scary to be honest because you're not sure when the symptoms will go away or return. We just have to be patient and wait for it to get better because it's something you don't really want to mess around with. It's frustrating sitting on the sideline, but you don't want to rush it."

The amalgamation of Read, Hape and Clarke's tales means New Zealanders will find it hard to escape the issue.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.

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