Conrad Smith raring to get back in thick of it
Conrad Smith will miss Friday's Super Rugby date with the Chiefs as he targets the Brumbies on May 31 as his possible return from concussion.
The Hurricanes and All Blacks centre today spoke publicly for the first time since being knocked out cold against the Bulls in Pretoria on May 5.
Smith told a media scrum at Wellington's Rugby League Park that he had suffered no post-concussion symptoms apart from ''a really sore neck.''
''I'm feeling fine,'' said the 31-year-old Hurricanes captain, who earlier in the day was named in the All Blacks wider training squad.
''We decided pretty much in the days after that I wouldn't play the following two weeks and that would give me, with the bye, effectively four weeks before the next game [against the Brumbies] and just see how I'm tracking.''
Smith said he had a history of head knocks, but never more than one a year. His KO at Loftus Versfeld was the most dramatic of his glittering career.
''I haven't been knocked out cold, for 40 seconds or whatever it was. So that was a bit different.''
Smith said he never considered retiring because of how quickly he recovered afterwards.
''Probably within half an hour, I actually could remember everything about the day, right up until the tackle. Other people experience mass memory loss, guys get headaches, guys can't concentrate, can't sleep - I had none of that. I'm obviously not going to take huge risks and I don't want it to happen regularly but that's all you can go on really.''
Smith felt like he could play now but would take a conservative course with his recovery, probably easing back into contact training during next week's bye.
The scariest part about the whole ordeal was watching the replay on TV.
''That was the frightening thing, seeing it, because it didn't feel that bad... The memory loss, I've had knocks and have heard about knocks, and that sort of scares you, because you've had this big space where you don't remember anything. But in terms of that I didn't feel bad at all.''
Smith remained in South Africa with the Hurricanes in a non-playing capacity for their win against the Cheetahs last weekend.
He had to busily work the phones reassuring family and friends he was OK.
''I think just the fact that it looked pretty bad and I was aware of that having seen it. The following day it didn't look good but I could only assure them that I was fine.''
Smith said he had not yet gone through the concussion protocol tests.
''You do that before you're ready to play so it's quite a stringent process you go through. I'll do that later on, because I'm not playing I haven't bothered doing them.''
He was placed on a precautionary drip at Loftus Versfeld before making a trip to the hospital where scans cleared him of serious injury.
Smith's memories of his role in the 48-14 loss were vivid.
''Everything of the day came back to me and I even remembered right up to the point in the game, knew the score when I came off, how they'd got their points, things like that. For me anyway, that assures me a lot, you don't have that horrible feeling and then it was a matter of making sure the neck was fine. That's all I really had, just a really sore neck and everything else didn't bother me too much.''