Concussed Conrad Smith may be grounded

18:42, Feb 24 2013
Hurricanes v Blues
Julian Savea dives over for try during the Hurricanes opening loss to the Blues.
Hurricanes v Blues
TJ Perenara gets caught in a tackle during the Hurricanes' Super Rugby opener against the Blues.
Hurricanes v Blues
Hurricanes players stand dejected after losing to the Blues in their season opener.
Hurricanes v Blues
Jeremy Thrush brings down a lineout ball during the loss to the Blues.
TJ Perenara
TJ Perenara gets a pass away against the Queensland Reds.
Andre Taylor
Andre Taylor attempts to make a tackle on a Queensland Reds player.
Julian Savea
Julian Savea kicks ahead against the Queensland Reds.
Conrad Smith
Conrad Smith (left) and Faifili Levave during the game against the Queensland Reds.
Julian Savea
Julian Savea breaks the tackle of Dan Carter.
Chris Smylie
Chris Smylie flings the ball wide for the Hurricanes.
TJ Perenara
TJ Perenara is taken in a tackle by a Crusaders player.
Conrad Smith
Conrad Smith (left) and James Marshall celebrate after the Hurricanes one-point win over the Crusaders.
Hurricanes v Highlanders
TJ Perenara tries to break through the Highlanders' tackle during his sides round five win.
Hurricanes v Highlanders
Beauden Barrett offloads to a teammate during the Hurricanes' win over the Highlanders.
Hurricanes v Highlanders
Tusi Pisi makes a break for the Hurricanes during their win over the Highlanders.
Hurricanes 2013 Season
Alapati Leiua scores for the Hurricanes during their victory over the Southern Kings in Wellington.
Hurricanes 2013 Season
Ben May scores scores for the Hurricanes during their victory over the Southern Kings in Wellington.
Hurricanes 2013 Season
Jeremy Thrush of the Hurricanes is tackled by Wimpie van der Walt of the Kings during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Kings.
Hurricanes 2013 Season
Ben May of the Hurricanes tussles with David Bulbring of the Kings in a maul during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Kings.
Hurricanes 2013 Season
Conrad Smith of the Hurricanes beats the tackle of Sergeal Petersen of the Kings to score a try during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Kings.
Hurricanes 2013 season
Tim Bateman of the Hurricanes is tackled by Pat McCutcheon, left, and Adam Ashley-Cooper of the Waratahs during their round eight clash in Wellington.
Hurricanes season 2013
All Blacks wing Julian Savea is tackled by Adam Ashley-Cooper of the Waratahs.
Hurricanes season 2013
Julian Savea breaks the tackle of Sekope Kepu in the Hurricanes clash with the Waratahs in Wellington.
Hurricanes
Ardie Savea gets a real taste of Super Rugby against the Waratahs.
Hurricanes v Waratahs
Julian Savea breaks away for a try during the Hurricanes' win over the Waratahs.
Hurricanes v Waratahs
Reggie Goodes looks for the offload as he is tackled by a Waratahs player.
Hurricanes v Waratahs
Motu Matu'u dives over for a try against the Waratahs.
Hurricanes v Waratahs
TJ Perenara prepares to kick as the Hurricanes beat the Waratahs in Wellington.
Hurricanes v Blues
A dejected Hurricanes outfit walks off the field after their loss to the Blues at Eden Park.
Hurricanes v Blues
Julian (L) and Ardie Savea share a moment during the game against the Blues.
Hurricanes v Blues
Brad Shields tries to break through the Blues' defence.
Hurricanes v Blues
Motu Matu'u prepares to charge through Chris Noakes of the Blues.
Hurricanes gallery
Captain Hurricanes fires up the fans ahead of the home game against the Western Force.
Hurricanes gallery
Andre Taylor takes on the Force defence.
Hurricanes gallery
Julian Savea on the charge against the Western Force.
Hurricanes gallery
Jeremy Thrush (No 4) celebrates the victory over the Force at the final whistle.
Hurricanes v Stormers
Tusi Pisi tries to break through a Stormers tackle.
Hurricanes v Stormers
Matt Proctor scores on debut against the Stormers.
Hurricanes v Stormers
Victor Vito prepares for a tackle during the Hurricanes loss to the Stormers in Palmerston North.
Hurricanes v Stormers
Alapati Leiua in action against the Stormers.
Hurricanes v Stormers
TJ Perenara gets the offload away.
Hurricanes gallery
Ben May charges ahead against the Bulls in Pretoria.
Hurricanes gallery
Andre Taylor is wrapped up in the tackle.
Hurricanes gallery
TJ Perenara spins the ball wide.
Hurricanes gallery
Victor Vito (No 8) crunches Bulls opposite number Pierre Spies in a tackle.
Hurricanes v Cheetahs
Tim Bateman offloads during the Hurricanes win over the Cheetahs.
Hurricanes v Cheetahs
Try-scorer TJ Perenara makes a break against the Cheetahs.
Hurricanes v Cheetahs
Stand-in captain and try-scorer Victor Vito in action against the Cheetahs.
Hurricanes v Cheetahs
Beauden Barrett makes a pass as the Hurricanes beat the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Hurricanes players (left) lament their loss to the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Ray Lee-Lo is tackled Pauliasi Manu of the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett lays down the law to his players ahead of the clash with the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Jeffery Toomaga-Allen makes a break against the Chiefs.
Hurricanes season 2013
Faifili Levave of the Hurricanes makes little ground against the Brumbies' defence during their Round 16 Super Rugby clash.
Hurricanes season 2013
Alapati Leiua of the Hurricanes runs the ball against the Brumbies in Canberra.
Hurricanes season 2013
Hurricanes prop Ben Franks tackles Peter Kimlin of the Brumbies during their Round 16 Super Rugby clash in Canberra.
Hurricanes season 2013
Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg is swamped by the Hurricanes' defence.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
TJ Perenara dots down for the Hurricanes while Chiefs captain Craig Clarke protests.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Beaudeb Barrett gets a pass away against the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Jeremy Thrush climbs high to win a lineout against the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
The Hurricanes wait on Waikato Stadium for their opponents the Chiefs.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Julian Savea of the Hurricanes runs the ball during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Victor Vito of the Hurricanes makes a break during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes passes during the round 19 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
Hurricanes gallery 2013
Rey Lee-Lo of the Hurricanes fends Tamati Ellison of the Highlanders off during their round 19 Super Rugby match.
Hurricanes 2013
Julian Savea in action against the Crusaders.
Hurricanes 2013
Hurricanes players celebrate after scoring a try against the Crusaders.
Hurricanes 2013
Brad Shields goes in to score a try for the Hurricanes against the Crusaders.
Hurricanes 2013
Beauden Barrett gets a kick away against the Crusaders.

Conrad Smith's head will need to quickly clear if he is to board the plane to Brisbane with his team-mates on Wednesday.

The Hurricanes captain is in doubt for the team's next match against the Reds after suffering concussion during Saturday night's 34-20 loss to the Blues at Westpac Stadium.

Smith was taken from the field by team doctor Theo Dorfling after colliding with opposite Rene Ranger in the 70th minute, and didn't return.

Conrad Smith
CAPTAIN'S KNOCK: Hurricanes skipper Conrad Smith leaves the field looking worse for wear after a head clash with Rene Ranger on Saturday.

That's because the 31-year-old failed the Pitch Side Concussion Assessment (PSCA) introduced to Super Rugby this season.

And though coaches Mark Hammett and Alama Ieremia said Smith seemed in good health in the hours after the match, they will not get the final say on his fitness to fly.

That will fall to Dorfling, who will oversee a staggered recovery programme that is now mandatory, and a psychometric test later in the week.

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"There are five steps in the test," Dorfling explained yesterday. "Each day they do a level up and they must be symptom-free each day when they come to see us before doing the next step.

"Conrad could be back playing this weekend as long as he passes his tests."

However, Smith's recovery is complicated by the fact that the Hurricanes fly out midweek.

"No, he won't be cleared to play when we fly out on Wednesday, but he could be cleared before the match," Dorfling said. "That's a call we'll have to make on Tuesday. If we think he's likely to be fit then he'll probably travel, but that's for the coaches to decide."

Smith was unavailable for comment yesterday as he recovered, but could be forgiven for taking a cautionary approach. He has some history with head knocks, revealing after a concussion in 2010 that he'd blacked out when taking the ball into contact.

"I haven't been too bad. I've had the odd one through the years, but you don't want to get to that stage [where it's regular]," he said at the time. "You don't want to get a few in a row because that's when the serious stuff comes into it."

Smith's had his share of nasty injuries in recent years with a detached retina last year, a badly broken nose in 2011 and the 2010 concussion.

Hurricanes assistant coach Ieremia said it was impossible to say whether Smith would be available this week.

"I talked to him after the game and he said he was fine. He could remember everything that happened but he was just a little bit dazed at the time.

"He seemed positive after the game, but he has to go through the tests."

Ieremia said the prospect of who would captain the side in his absence hadn't been discussed. The Hurricanes do not have an official vice-captain this season, relying instead on a leadership group to back up the skipper.

Ieremia was confident the squad had enough midfield options to cope should their centre be ruled out.

"Alapati is an option, we have Rey [Lee-Lo] there as well who brings a different dimension. We have the centre area covered well but it's a matter of waiting to see how Snakey pulls up."

A decision on two other Hurricanes returning from concussion in the team's final preseason match is more imminent.

Dorfling said wing Matt Proctor and prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen were both nearing the end of their recovery period and were likely to be passed fit for selection.

Meanwhile, Hurricanes chief executive James Te Puni said the first-up crowd of 10,662 had been about 2000 below what the franchise had budgeted for.

Though it was "disappointing", Te Puni said there were a number of factors that affected the figure.

One was a clash with the Mission Estate event in Hawke's Bay which a number of season members had signalled they were attending.

Some fans had likely stayed home to watch the ODI between New Zealand and England on television, something that highlighted the difficulties of Super Rugby's February kick-off.

The crowd had been in line with the attendance at the corresponding Hurricanes-Blues match last season, he said.

The Dominion Post