Hurricanes lock James Broadhurst will miss the start of the Super Rugby season due to the ongoing effects of concussion.
Broadhurst has not trained fully since suffering a head knock playing for Taranaki against Wellington in August last year.
Though he was fully focused on getting back on the field for the Hurricanes later this season the 28-year-old said that wouldn’t happen until he was 100 percent healthy.
“I’m looking forward to getting back on the field, but for that to happen I need to make sure I follow the correct return to play protocols,” he said.
“It’s frustrating not being able to train and play, but caution is the best policy when it comes to concussion.”
Broadhurst said he continued to experience headaches when he exercised, but was encouraged by his most recent visit to his specialist.
“The headaches have come and gone, but I’m definitely on an upward track.”
The Hurricanes, New Zealand Rugby and the Taranaki Rugby Union had all been outstanding in providing support structures, he said.
“There has been no pressure whatsoever to get back on the field and I’d like to thank those organisations for their continuing support.”
Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said he had full confidence that the club’s medical staff were handling Broadhurst’s return to play protocols in a safe and responsible fashion.
“You don’t muck around with concussion," Boyd said.
"We’d love to see Broady out there on the field, but fully understand that won’t happen until he’s satisfied all the criteria set out by the medical staff and that’s exactly how it should be.”
There was no specific time frame on when Broadhurst would be available for selection.
Hurricanes doctor Theo Dorfling said the guidelines around return to play protocols were clear.
“New Zealand Rugby is proactive in making sure we do the best by our players and follow the latest recommendations from World Rugby and we’ve certainly done that in James’ case."
Players needed to be symptom free for 24 hours before they were able to participate in any physical activity and only then would be able to enter a graduated return to play programme.
“Once a player is symptom free they are monitored every step of the way and if they display any symptoms they will go back to square one.”