George North vows to keep playing despite concussion issues

George North has vowed not to let a series of concussions drive him out of rugby.

The Wales winger was knocked out for the fifth time in two years during Northampton's Aviva Premiership loss to Leicester on Dec. 3.

There was a storm of criticism on Wednesday when the Saints were cleared of any wrongdoing after allowing North to return to the game.

The 24-year-old has become the focal point for the concussion debate in British rugby and one expert, former World Rugby medical adviser Barry O'Driscoll, suggested retirement would have been considered because of the Welshman's injury record.

But North has been inspired by Wales' 36-year-old front-row Gethin Jenkins, who is recovering from surgery on a bicep, has often suffered calf problems, and endured a series of other injuries in his career.

"Gethin's body is in absolute tatters," North told the Daily Mail before the Concussion Management Review Group review reached its controversial decision to clear Northampton. "He should be in a home somewhere.

"As a young professional looking up to an older and more experienced professional, if I could have that level of professionalism towards the end of my career and still want to get out of bed in the morning and go again then that would be pretty amazing.

"Gethin is half-man, half-rehab. He does his extras and everything he needs to keep getting himself ready. If I can keep getting myself ready then I'll always keep doing it."

On the physical strains of professional rugby, North said: "When it's good it's good, when it's bad, it's bad. But it's a sport, a job. It's not going to change anyone's life.

"With the World Cup year last year I came to a tally of 32 games in the end. People would not believe what you have to do from the beginning of pre-season to get from May all the way through to the next June.

"I finished up playing something like 13 and a half months consecutively until New Zealand in June when my hamstring went pop.

"I'm in a very fortunate position, which all sportsmen are in, that we play the sport we love for a living. But you very quickly realise there is so much more to it than just what you see on a Saturday. It can be a real slog."