George North has vowed not to let a series of concussions and the controversy around them drive him out of rugby.
The Wales winger was knocked out for the fifth time in Northampton’s Aviva Premiership loss to Leicester on December 3. There was a storm of criticism on Wednesday when the Saints were cleared of any wrongdoing after allowing North to return to the game.
Meanwhile, former World Rugby medical adviser Barry O’Driscoll was one expert to suggest North, just 24, could retire from the game for the sake of his long-term health. But the rampaging back will not entertain any such notion, insisting he will instead follow the example of Wales’ veteran front-row warrior Gethin Jenkins.
“GethJens body is in absolute tatters,” North told said. “He should be in a home somewhere. As a young professional looking up to an older and more experienced pro, if I could have that level of professionalism towards the end of my career and still want to get out of bed in the morning and go again then that would be pretty amazing.
“Gethin is half-man, half-rehab. He does his extras and everything he needs to keep getting himself ready. If I can keep getting myself ready then I’ll always keep doing it.”
North was unable to discuss the Leicester incident specifically, with the interview conducted before the Concussion Management Review Group review reached its conclusion, but did acknowledge the physical strains of a career in rugby.
“It’s like anything. When it’s good it’s good, when it’s bad, it’s bad,” he said. “But it’s a sport, a job. It’s not going to change anyone’s life.
“With the World Cup year last year I came to a tally of 32 games in the end. People would not believe what you have to do from the beginning of pre-season to get from May all the way through to the next June. I finished up playing something like 13 and a half months consecutively until New Zealand in June when my hamstring went pop.
“I’m in a very fortunate position, which all sportsmen are in, that we play the sport we love for a living. But you very quickly realise there is so much more to it than just what you see on a Saturday. It can be a real slog.”
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