Afeaki’s career at a crossroads

Date published: November 28 2014

Chiefs prop Ben Afeaki’s ongoing concussion problems could lead to him retiring as early as six weeks into the Super Rugby season.

Chiefs prop Ben Afeaki’s ongoing concussion problems could lead to him retiring from the game as early as six weeks into the upcoming Super Rugby season.

Afeaki has been troubled by symptoms such as headaches, nausea and moodiness ever since he clashed heads with team-mate Brodie Retallick during the Chiefs’ 2014 season opener against the Crusaders in Christchurch in February.

Both players were concussed but while Retallick went on to win the IRB’s International Player of the Year award recently, Afeaki has not returned to action again.

His inactivity has led to him dropping down to the Chiefs’ wider training group but Afeaki, who played one Test for the All Blacks in 2013, is desperate to play again and re-establish himself as one of New Zealand’s premier front rowers.

“But if it doesn’t come right before that six weeks into the season and I’m still getting symptoms then and I’m still not training at all then it will be hard to see me being able to get fit and play again that Super Rugby season,” Afeaki told the Waikato Times.

“If [that happens] it’s going to push me towards the end of it and looking towards my health it might not be a smart decision [to carry on].

“I guess that’s when I’ll sit down with a specialist and decide whether or not to go through with it or whether to live a healthy life with my family and friends.”

Although it appearsthat he has come to terms with the possibility of ending his career, Afeaki said that he would feel more comfortable if he knew exactly where he stood.

“As far as I’m concerned at the moment I definitely want to play again and if the time comes and I’m not ready then I’ll be excited about setting goals outside of footy and I guess just living a life like all my mates live with travel and study and a bit more freedom,” he added

Although his concussion symptoms were lessening Afeaki admitted that sometimes he still suffered from nausea and a fogginess when he concentrated.

“They’re definitely less intense, they’re not as full-on and I can still operate,” he explained,

But he is still only participate in very basic physical training – cardio and light weights – to keep some sort of fitness base until he is symptom-free and cleared by a specialist to resume contact training.