Medical staff play a key role in rugby today: Chris Henry

Chris Henry
Chris Henry

Concussion has become a buzz word in rugby and Ireland and Ulster flanker Chris Henry thinks it will always be part of the game.

But with more awareness and big campaign drives such as ‘Ulster at the Heart of the Community’ which was launched at Kingspan Stadium this week he is hoping the effects will be limited and less players are forced to quit the game.

“I think the way the game is going there is always going to be bangs to the head, you look how players are dealt with over the last 18 months I think we are very lucky we have medical staff who realise how important it is,” said Henry.

“I had to come off and do a concussion protocol in one of the games at the start of the season and truthfully if it was up to me I wouldn’t have come off.

“Luckily I was ok and was able to come back on, you take a lot of confidence when people are looking out for you, as a player you always want to be out on the pitch.

“But I think sometimes it’s good that that is taken away from you.

“So overall rugby is making great steps and I’m sure there will be more developments but at the moment I think players feel very safe out there.

“When you see players having to retire that’s what makes it real for you.

“Look at Kevin McLoughlin and Declan Fitzpatrick two very close friends of mine who had to retire.

“When you chat to them you hear their symptoms and how they feel and they are living with that everyday it’s makes you take a step back and go the game is important but obviously your health is more important.

“I think you’d be surprised to find any player that isn’t behind the protocols that are in place because you don’t want to have to hang up your boots earlier and you want people to be safe.

“Luke Marshall is probably the best positive example of it.

“He was taken care off, wasn’t rushed back did all the concussion protocols and is now back out there.

“Whether it is because he is wearing a head guard now he’s playing his best rugby and is a success story while other lads have had to retire.”

As well as dealing with all the physical attributes of the game the Hearty of the Community will also look at players mental wellbeing.

“I think everyone whether it’s a concussion or an injury I think you have to be grateful for what you have and that you will be back

“I think if you ask any player injuries are the toughest part of the game you want to be out their but you have got to stay positive and that is all part of being mentally strong.”

Henry will miss this weekend’s PRO12 game against Treviso but should return next week.

Henry though he career was over when he suffered a mini stroke on the morning of the Ireland v South Africa game in November 2014.

“I thought for a stage of about 10 days where I didn’t know, I was preparing for the worst getting my affairs in order starting to think what was I going to do and how much breathing space I’d have before I had to get back into study or go and find a job I was constantly thinking of these thinks.”

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified but it is going to happen to everyone at some stage in their rugby career but luckily for me I was able to get through it and I’m very lucky to be back out playing.”