<
>

Rob Kearney insists players are more 'honest' about concussion

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Ireland fullback Rob Kearney believes players have stopped cutting corners when it comes to concussion, having woken up to the severity of repeated knocks to the head.

The issue has become a priority for the sport's authorities following several high-profile cases, with some former players admitting to a deceptive approach to precognitive tests.

At the beginning of the season players are required to take a base-line cognitive test, which is then repeated if a player is suspected of suffering a concussion during a game.

In the past players have deliberately attempted to score poorly in the initial test in order that the results of any subsequent examination would be more likely to be closer to the original score -- allowing them to continue playing.

Kearney, though, has described this approach as "detrimental" and insists that the practice would not be tolerated by players today.

"It's something players would have joked about maybe four, five or six years ago [and say] 'oh, I'll just not give the base-line test my full concentration'," he was as saying by The Times.

"It's those attitudes that can be detrimental to the game. Certainly in my field, and players in the professional game, we've got much better at looking out for each other and there's a much better degree of honesty."

Leinster back Kearney, who has won 68 Ireland caps and is also the Irish Rugby Union Players Association (IRUPA) chairman, believes senior players have a responsibility to set an example when it comes to concussion protocol.

The 29-year-old said: "If someone was to genuinely joke and say something like that [about setting a low test score] nowadays, it wouldn't be particularly well received and guys would be turning around and saying 'that's not very smart' and 'you shouldn't be saying things like that, younger guys hear you, that's a not a leader's mentality, that's not the way to be acting'.

"Particularly for kids, that needs to be a really strong message, the amateurs, the schoolboys. That is absolutely not the thing we want to be doing. It's an easy thing and you can do it but you're only harming yourself further down the line."