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Concussion-prone Berrick Barnes Takes Indefinite Break from Rugby

posted by SK Brain Injury    |   June 14, 2011 09:35


    Berrick Barnes
    The New South Wales Waratahs' Berrick Barnes has ruled himself out of the remainder of the domestic season. Photograph: Jason O'Brien/Action Images

    The Australia utility back Berrick Barnes has decided to take an indefinite break from rugby after seeking medical advice following repeated instances of concussion stemming from head knocks throughout the Super Rugby season.

    The 25-year-old, who can play fly-half and inside-centre, ruled himself out of the New South Wales Waratahs' lineup for the remainder of the season but hopes to be available for the Wallabies' squad in time for the World Cup in New Zealand, which starts in September.

    "I'm not hiding from the fact that I've been a bit frustrated and anxious about things and that's probably causing some of the issues I'm having as well," Barnes said in Sydney. "So to get away from the environment just for a little bit is probably going to be pretty beneficial in that respect."

    Barnes, a veteran of 31 Tests, said earlier this month he wanted to be allowed to wear a boxing-style helmet to protect himself, after missing two matches for the Waratahs because of concussion and another with a migraine.

    The long-term effects of head injuries are a growing concern in all contact sports and the IRB issued new guidelines on the treatment of concussion last month.

    In Australia, the issue was brought into focus earlier this year when the former Australian Rules footballer Daniel Bell lodged a claim for compensation after being diagnosed with brain damage linked to concussions he sustained while playing.

    Barnes has previously expressed wariness about sacrificing his long-term health for his rugby career. "I want to play a bit longer and look after my own health too so I'm trying to work out the best way to do it," he said earlier this month. "I understand that footy is not a forever thing, I don't want to be affecting the forever part in any adverse sense."

    Barnes's loss comes as a further blow for the injury-hit Waratahs' post-season hopes. The Sydney-based side face a crunch match against the ACT Brumbies this weekend, needing victory in the regular season's last round to secure a top six play-off berth.