Signs ‘positive’ for Ryan Crotty, but All Blacks say take all the time he needs

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All Blacks fullback Ben Smith says midfielder Ryan Crotty is improving after being knocked out in Sydney.

While some might be writing the epitaphs on Ryan Crotty’s rugby career, the All Blacks are jumping to no such dramatic conclusions in the wake of their midfield linchpin’s latest concussion.

The 29-year-old Cantab suffered what’s believed to be his sixth concussion in the last year and a-half in Sydney on Saturday night when he was knocked out in a “friendly fire” head clash with team-mate Jack Goodhue in the 12th minute of the test won 38-13 by the All Blacks.

Crotty has been released by the team to recover from this latest head knock in his own time and away from the pressures of the All Blacks environment. It is standard operating procedure for these type of incidents which are becoming more and more frequent in the modern game.

All Blacks second five-eighth Ryan Crotty leaves the field in Sydney after yet another blow to his head area.

CLAY CROSS/PHOTOSPORT

All Blacks second five-eighth Ryan Crotty leaves the field in Sydney after yet another blow to his head area.

There have been concerns expressed in some quarters that this latest blow, at a time when the spotlight is on the far-reaching impact of concussions in sport, should force Crotty to examine his future in the sport.

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But All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said giving Crotty the time and space to make his own assessments and decisions was the “obvious answer” right now.

There did not appear to be major concerns that Crotty’s latest concussion would prove career-ending, but Foster pointed out that ultimately that was a decision that would be made by one man, and one man only.

Ryan Crotty is attended to by All Blacks doctor Tony Page after being knocked out in the Bledisloe test in Sydney.

CLAY CROSS/PHOTOSPORT

Ryan Crotty is attended to by All Blacks doctor Tony Page after being knocked out in the Bledisloe test in Sydney.

“He’s taken a blow, you go through protocols, and there’s no pressure on him whatsoever to come back and play in a hurry,” said Foster on Tuesday in Auckland. “How we handle it is we give him the space to go away and recover properly.

“The signs are really positive from him the last few days, but it’s his health that is our greatest concern. So it’s for him to go away and have a break, and recover to the point where he can make a really clear decision about when he’s due to come back.

“The good thing is that’s in his hands. I don’t think it’s up to us or anyone else to decide what he wants to do.”

Foster was then asked about what research told them about the accumulative effects of knocks like Crotty was taking.

“Everyone is chasing information on that worldwide, but what we do know is they’re all different. It’s a little bit of an unknown area but what we know our best practice is to give them time and space, take all the pressure off and we know the importance of them recovering back to zero – having a full recovery.

“The game is trying to act responsibly in that area, with the best possibly scientific information, in making the right decisions. But ultimately every case is different. We’ll give him space to recover and then reassess.”

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All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith believes there’s plenty of room for improvement after the Bledisloe opener.

In 2016 Crotty came back after a similar head knock in the test in Sydney via an outing for Canterbury. Foster would not be drawn on a similar plan this time round.

The Cantab has not been replaced in the squad for now; but the All Blacks will not be planning on seeing him back any time soon.

 – Stuff

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