Conrad Smith: 'I wasn't concussed'

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 14:52 27/02/2013
Conrad Smith
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
DENYING IT: Conrad Smith says he was not concussed during the Hurricanes v Blues game.

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Hurricanes' captain Conrad Smith doesn't believe he was concussed during the team's match against the Blues.

The All Black centre has revealed he failed Super Rugby's new pitch-side concussion test after losing his balance on the concrete in the player's tunnel at Westpac Stadium.

However, Smith is adamant he was fine to continue playing and was initially annoyed with the two doctors who ruled him out of the final ten minutes of the Hurricanes 34-20 loss.

''I've never been through it before. I answered all the questions from the doc which was fine,'' he said today. 

''I did all that well and then I had to go inside the tunnel and balance on sprigs on a concrete floor. I lost my balance and that was enough for them to say I couldn't play.

''That was a bit frustrating because I knew I was fine. The test is conservative, but I think it's a good idea they've brought it in. It's better to err on that side with head injuries.

''It's an unknown thing a lot of the time. It's a step in the right direction, so though I was annoyed at the time I appreciate what it's trying to do.''

Smith said the requirement to perform a walk the line test caught him by surprise.

''It would help now that I know what I'm doing. It's that I didn't know what I was doing so when I was asked to balance I wasn't quite sure and when I was told I couldn't go back on the field I was a little annoyed.''

Hurricanes team doctor Theo Dorfling acknowledged to the The Dominion Post on Sunday the test would sometimes catch players who subsequently may have not suffered concussion.

The idea was to err on the cautionary side and prevent any player who was concussed from returning to the field.

Smith said he understood that rationale and had no issue with the initial decision to take him from the field to perform the tests.

''I never lost consciousness. I had two head knocks where I was dazed both times, both resulted in tries unfortunately, both where I was stunned and fell of tackles,'' he said.

''But I remember everything going on and the effect was only split second. That's why I was happy to leave the field. It's obviously not a good thing, but I was lucid the whole time.

''I think everyone agrees, doctors included, that it's still a work in progress, but like I say it's the best they can do at the moment and if it means they are slightly on the precautionary side we are happy with that.''

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He suggested the balance element of the test could be conducted on a more user-friendly surface than concrete.

And Smith said he was raring to go for the team's next match against the Reds after satisfying the medical team he was suffering no ill effects.

''I've got through the week well. I felt fine after the game. I know a lot was made of it. I appreciate the tests now are pretty conservative, but I don't think i was too bad after the game. 

''I passed the tests that started on Sunday morning, the tests we do on the computer. I did that within 12 hours. Unfortunately I've had a bit of experience with this and I knew this wasn't a bad case.

''I wasn't knocked out at the time and I was always planning to play [the Reds], so the week's gone well.''

Hurricanes' coach Mark Hammett backed Dorfling's decision on the night and said player welfare had to be the number one priority.

''It's a difficult one. If you look from the medical side of things and you send a player out who isn't right and there is a major then we'd all be screaming at the medical guys.

''I'm not absolutely clear on the concussion test. I know its a real mixture and Conrad spoke to you about that. It's one of those difficult ones.

''As Kiwis in general we are 'she'll be right', until something happens. There's plenty of examples of that outside of rugby to prove that. We have to be careful and make sure player safety is priority and that's why the tests are in place.''

The Hurricanes fly out to Brisbane today.

- Fairfax Media

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