Leinster coach Leo Cullen yesterday admitted the forced retirement of Kevin McLaughlin “was tough news to try to process.” The 31-year-old flanker was forced to quit the game last week due to medical concerns about his increasing susceptibility to concussion.
Cullen admitted that McLaughlin would be a huge loss for the province, especially as he had been chosen as stand-in captain for the duration of the World Cup.
“It is a huge loss for Leinster. We picked him as captain and that is a reflection on what his peers, and his coaches, think of him. He is just a really good character to have around the place. He always played the game full on.
“It was tough news to try to process, but we have tried to get the right framework in place in Leinster, where players are well taken care of.
"He came off in that Edinburgh game with a head knock, he said during the game he did not feel quite right. He saw a specialist after that and was given the advice; the recommendation he ceased playing. And Kevin has taken that advice on board.”
The issue of concussion in rugby has become a major talking point in recent months. Indeed recently-appointed Leinster scrum coach John Fogarty was forced to retire because of a series of concussions five years ago.
Nevertheless, Cullen believes that there has been major progress in rugby’s attitude towards concussion in recent years.
“I remember myself when I was younger, I had a concussion where I was completely conscious the whole time. But, I actually had memory loss for a period of the game and post the game.
"I went into hospital and stayed overnight. Behind the scenes, with our medical team, they are much more aware (than in the past).
“Our physiotherapist has been involved in a couple of studies with Trinity (College), making sure that we’re doing everything we possibly can to make sure we try and recognise the symptoms and put the proper protocols in place where a player gets back to playing again,” Cullen added.
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