BECOMING FORGETFUL: Connor Vest, playing for Grafton High School, has gone on to represent Norths in Sydney.
BECOMING FORGETFUL: Connor Vest, playing for Grafton High School, has gone on to represent Norths in Sydney.

Concussion part of the game, but a concern for players

Connor Vest is a prime example of the effects of concussion.

Vest, one of the most promising rugby union players to come out of the Grafton Redmen in recent times, moved to Sydney in late 2012 for a chance with Shute Shield side Norths.

His 2013 season was one for the ages - he was named best and fairest in both the first-grade colts team and across the whole club, and was named in Norths' Super Team, which was made up of players from the club's seven teams.

He was sidelined earlier this year while playing for the Waratah under-20s, rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in a game against Fiji A.

But it is what's going on in Vest's head that is troubling the promising rugby star a week out from his 21st birthday.

"I've played footy 12 years now and it feels like it's getting to me," he said.

"I feel like I forget things too easily.

"Concussion is definitely something I worry about."

The harsh reality of concussion and the way it affects the brain is something the major sports are more actively concerned with now than in the past.

Rules changes have swept through the codes, with tougher penalties for contact to the head and putting opposition players in dangerous positions.

Perhaps the biggest area where it has to change is in the psychology of people who play contact sport.

"Whenever I get concussed I just play through it and battle," Vest said.

"I play for the team and at the end of the game, if you're concussed you're concussed. That's footy.

"I guess that's what happens with contact sport."

The way Vest approaches the game is no different to the thousands of people who play the sport across the country.

There is a reluctance for players to admit they are not feeling 100%, and an even greater desire to stay out on the field and not let their teammates down - it is part of the culture.

Vest was not sure what could be done to alleviate the risk of concussion and he said the ability of headgear to prevent it was limited.

"There won't be many ways you can bring it down and stop the concussion because you're still going to get the hits to the head," he said.



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