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New Zealand
Ben Afeaki makes plans for life after rugby
ESPN Staff
June 30, 2014
The Chiefs' Ben Afeaki makes a break against the Highlanders, Highlanders v Chiefs, Super Rugby, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, February 22, 2013
Ben Afeaki has sat out of rugby since he clashed heads with team-mate Brodie Retallick in February © Getty Images
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In Focus: Concussion debate

Ben Afeaki is the latest high-profile rugby player to publicise the brutal effects of concussion, making plans for a life outside the game less than 12 months after making his Test debut for the All Blacks.

Afeaki has not played rugby since he clashed heads with Chiefs team-mate Brodie Retallick in mid-February, his third head knock in three years, and he is still suffering the symptoms of concussion, "mainly nausea and fogginess in the mornings".

"The most is nausea," Afeaki told Fairfax Media in New Zealand. "Normally I get it from concentrating too much; reading or looking at screens. And when I hop in the car I tend to get it a bit. Four out of seven mornings, I wake up feeling a little foggy. It kind of goes away and then comes back for maybe five or 10 minutes during the day."

Afeaki said he had been "battling ever since" his clash with Retallick. "It's been really hard. It's given me a lot of time to start organising my life after rugby. If I get another one or this one doesn't clear up, I'll have to throw in the towel."

Afeaki thought he was "good to go" after eight weeks only to suffer "a light knee to the head at training" and he "knew it'd be a while because the head was no good".

"As soon as my symptoms clear up I'm itching to go out there and train and get back to playing", but mental skills coach David Galbraith has been helping him accept that he may have to quit rugby.

"We've talked through the possibility of not returning," Afeaki said. "That's something I'd have to deal with if it comes around. You focus on something to try and achieve your goals and if it comes to an end I'll be able to make new goals in other areas of my life; goals outside of rugby."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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