Munster’s assistant coach Mick O’Driscoll has paid tribute to retiring Irish and Leinster second/back row Kevin McLoughlin, who was this week forced from the game because of recurring concussion problems.
O’Driscoll believes there could be more to follow McLaughlin, given the increasing physicality of the game throughout the world.
But O’Driscoll believes the right moves are being made by the authorities throughout the professional game.
McLaughlin officially announced his retirement earlier this week after sustaining one of a number of concussion injuries and, after further examination from a neurological expert, it was decided that he should retire from the game at the tender age of 31.
Ironically, McLaughlin has only recently been appointed as captain of Leinster for the duration of the Rugby World Cup and the news came both as a blow to the province and the player himself.
O’Driscoll, however, believes the right decision has been reached. “I played against him for Munster and a couple of times with him for the Ireland A team as well. He was always a very good player, very honest, very tough, always aggressive in a good way, a very good opponent but it’s very sad to see it happening.”
“From Kevin’s point of view it is disappointing, there was obviously three or four good years left in him. It’s very disappointing for him and for Leinster. It will be a tough one to bear but it’s far better than the alternative, isn’t it?
“Let’s be honest, things are different in the game, what’s different I don’t know as such, but from when I started playing the guys are that much fitter, stronger, bigger, so it’s probably something that maybe a big concern.
But it is still managable in that I think, to be fair to Kevin, to be fair to the Leinster medical team, they are handling it in the way they should have handled it.
“Every professional team handles it in that way now – all players have a return to play protocol situation. If they pass that they go on to play and if they don’t they don’t play, the old thing that you’re out for three weeks wasn’t great because you could be as bad after three weeks as after a week.
“It has now gone up a level and at the end of the day it is up to the medics and the neurologists that decide these things and who are we to argue with them? I think if they have decided, for instance, in Kevin’s situation that the best course of action is for him to retire – and I don’t know anything about his medical history – then I would agree that it is the right way to handle it”
O’Driscoll is overseeing Munster after a ten-day break since beating Ospreys in the second match of their Guinness PRO12 campaign.
“We had a shocking season last year from an injury point of view and hopefully we have turned the corner to stay relatively injury-free for a while now. There are no major concerns going into the next game against Glasgow, which is a good thing, and I suppose we’re happy with two wins under the belt. No, we’re not playing hugely well but we have started with a couple of wins.
“In the first game we should have scored more tries over Treviso but we didn’t and then there was a big improvement going over to play the Ospreys. Heading over there was always going to be difficult. It’s never an easy place to win. It was, I think the first time that a visiting team won there in 16 competitive fixtures, so it was fair enough to get out of there with the points.”
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