Rennie doubts Craig Clarke concussion claims

EVAN PEGDEN
Last updated 05:03 13/02/2014
Craig Clarke
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ
HEAD TROUBLE: Former Chiefs captain Craig Clarke has been forced to take an indefinite break from rugby.

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Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie says the figures don't add up and he has rubbished the inference that the franchise failed to take proper care of their former co-captain Craig Clarke when he was concussed.

Clarke, the Super Rugby champions' popular leader, left the franchise at the end of last season to take up a contract with Irish club Connacht.

But the 30-year-old two-metre lock has taken an indefinite break from all rugby after suffering a concussion while playing for the club, having missed a chunk of last year's season for the Chiefs with a similar problem.

Connacht's Kiwi coach Pat Lam told Irish website TheScore: "Craig has had his 10th concussion in 22 months, so he is a big concern. At this stage he is going to be unavailable indefinitely, until there is a bit more testing and so forth."

But Rennie was yesterday adamant that figure was incorrect.

"My first impression was that someone is not very good at adding," Rennie said.

"I don't know where 10 comes from. He may have had a couple of knocks while with [Taranaki] but we recall only three here with us.

"The one last year took him out for quite a while. I think he was out for six weeks."

Rennie said the claim of 10 concussions in 22 months almost implied the Chiefs medical stuff had not done a good enough job and had recklessly thrown Clarke back into the fray.

"But that couldn't be further from the truth. There are really strict protocols around head injuries so he has to go on a light run and have no symptoms and if he passes that he undergoes a little bit of contact and again has to have no symptoms - it's a long process until eventually he has to have a full contact session with no sign of symptoms and then sit a test."

Through that process Clarke had said he didn't feel quite right so had probably had an extra three weeks off because of that.

"It's very stringent and we've got rugby med over here where all the NPC, Super Rugby and All Blacks teams are putting information on there so it's all documented and there is no way a player could have that many concussions in that short space of time and still be running around the park," Rennie said.

He described the claim as "a dumb statement from someone who is ill-informed".

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