Super Rugby
Conrad Smith remains in doubt
ESPN Staff
February 25, 2013
The Hurricanes' Conrad Smith fends off the Blues' Chris Noakes, Hurricanes v Blues, Super Rugby, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand, February 23, 2013
Conrad Smith is free of symptoms of concussion but remains in doubt for the game against Queensland Reds © Getty Images
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Conrad Smith must pass a series of concussion tests before he is passed fit to play for the Hurricanes against Queensland Reds in Brisbane on Friday night.

The Hurricanes captain left the field after colliding with Rene Ranger in the 70th minute of the 34-20 Super Rugby loss to the Blues, and he did not return to the field after failing the Pitch Side Concussion Assessment introduced this season.

Smith is now symptom-free but he will have to undergo graduated testing as part of a mandatory return-to-play protocol.

There are five stages the All Blacks centre must complete before he is passed fit to play.

"The first thing is they have to be clear of symptoms so no headaches etc," Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett said.

"Then they need to do some sort of physical activity, like a run. Then if they get through that without headaches or any problems like that you move up [in scale]. It'll be more physical [with some contact] then into full contact. It's a pretty thorough test before people are allowed back."

The player must be symptom free at each stage, and they cannot progress to the next stage until they are. If everything goes according to plan, the player progresses up the scale every day. Hammett said that Conrad Smith had passed his concussion tests and would undergo a physical test on Monday afternoon, which would involve him running.

"He needs to pass the physical test now," Hammett said. "If he's not cleared, then he won't [fly to Brisbane]. He needs to be cleared today to be able to pass that seven-day protocol. He's in pretty good shape and in pretty good spirits. He generally doesn't have a lot of knocks. He's had a few eye injuries but this is not an eye injury. I think he'll be fine."

Alapati Leiua could shift from the wing to centre, if Smith is ruled out, but Rey Lee-Lo, who replaced the centre on Saturday night, is another option.

Meanwhile, second five-eighth Tim Bateman believes the Hurricanes can easily address the handling woes that afflicted them against the Blues.

"We know we can catch, we know we can pass, we know we are good players," Bateman said. "We've just got to make sure that we come mentally prepared for the game. We're a team that plays well when we're playing with the ball and we've got confidence in us. We don't want to go back into our shells and be predictable. I suppose it's getting that balance between knowing what you can chance and maybe what you should hold in and work that next phase."

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