Fears are growing over the future of England lock Geoff Parling after he sustained another concussion – his second of the season – during Leicester’s 45-0 drubbing at Bath on Saturday.
With the issue of concussion in the headlines and with much greater awareness of the long-term consequences of repeated head traumas, Leicester are taking no changes with their player who has had five diagnosed concussions in the space of 11 months.
“He got concussed in Edinburgh, had three weeks off, played against Cardiff, was good, then played against Exeter and got a bang on the head again versus Bath, so that’s two concussions in three games,” Leicester director rugby Richard Cockerill said. “We’re waiting for advice from the specialist but he won’t be fit this week and he may need some down-time because he’s had consecutive concussions very quickly and clearly that’s not healthy.
“It is a concern for his health. Playing is secondary. He had a concussion in the Six Nations, he had a concussion at the end of the season and now he’s had two in very quick succession in pre-season and at the start of the season. The bigger picture is Geoff’s well-being more than playing.”
Pressed as to Parling’s future, Cockerill said: “I don’t know the answer to that. You would like to think that with the right rest and expertise, he will be fine, but I don’t know. He is doing the usual cognition protocols and everything else they do. He’s going to see the right people.
“He came in yesterday and feels OK in himself but for all the right reasons we have to go through all the right protocols. I don’t want any of our players out there with potential brain injuries from concussions or whatever it may be because that’s not right.
“If he needs a few weeks because that’s the right thing to do to get over this problem then we need to do that. There are some times when it’s only a game.”
Earlier this month the NFL – which has a comparable level of concussion to rugby union – estimated that around 28% of former players would develop Alzheimer’s or dementia, a rate significantly higher than normal.