Mike Brown, the England full-back, has said he “cannot wait” to return to full contact rugby after the longest enforced lay-off of his career, following a concussion against Italy in the Six Nations in February.
Brown will travel with the England squad to Denver, Colorado, this weekend for high altitude training, having been cleared by medics to play a full part in England’s extensive World Cup preparation camp.
Brown was knocked out in a clash of heads with Italy’s Andrea Masi, causing him to miss the following fixture against Ireland. He played in the deciding match against France at Twickenham but suffered headaches.
Now, though, Brown claims: “I’m all fine. I’m into all the training that everyone else is doing, no side-effects. It all seems to be behind me now, which is great. If anything was going to make my head worse, it would be the training we are doing at the moment. It’s been brutal but it’s been good to get on with it.
“There was no significant knock against France. Watching it, you can see how physical and tough a game it was, probably one of the hardest I’ve ever played in. You can see from the scoreline how tough it was and I think our GPS stats said it was the hardest game the England team have played.
“Putting all that together, it probably just stirred something up in my head. I just wasn’t quite ready. It was probably my body telling me, ‘hold on a minute, we need time to recover’. I was involved in a few physical moments in the game, I took a few head knocks, like I always do. It was just my head telling me to hold on, needing time to recover.”
Brown said he had struggled to “completely switch off” in the fashion his doctors requested. “Mornings and evening were the worst, maybe because that’s when I was most tired,” he added. “I don’t think anything triggered it [the headaches], it was all the time. It was only about a two or three out of 10 in terms of pain, but it was always there. It wasn’t like, ‘I’m in agony’. It was like a nagging headache which, after a while, you push down.”
Brown, speaking at the launch of Canterbury’s new England kit for the World Cup, said he could “remember right up to [the accident] and again when I woke up”.
In his period on the sidelines, Brown had moments when he worried over his long-term future in the game. “Yeah, there’s times when you worry and days when you sort of snap out of it. Those times when you do worry, it’s hard when it’s not an injury where you have a start and an end – you just have to wait.”
The months out of the game presented a challenge all by themselves. “I was stuck at home, annoying the missus, feeling sorry for myself. It’s hard when everyone’s saying, ‘Oh, don’t think about your head’, because you’re sat there and you’ve got nothing else to think about but the reason why you’re sat there. You just try to keep busy, but it was tough.”
On Saturday morning, Stuart Lancaster’s 50-man training squad will be reduced to 45 prior to the trip to Denver.Reuse content