Six Nations: Dublin doubt over concussion victim Mike Brown

Lancaster revealed that the Rugby Football Union sanctioned extra medical assistance for the Italy match

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The Independent Online

Another Six Nations weekend, another concussion debate – not that there was much discussion needed over the precise nature of the injury suffered by the England full-back Mike Brown as he left the Twickenham pitch on a stretcher.

Brown was poleaxed as he tackled the Italian centre Andrea Masi in the early exchanges on Saturday and although he was well enough to watch the second half from the replacements’ bench, he is by no means certain to be given a medical all-clear for the meeting with Ireland in Dublin in 13 days’ time.

“Mike must go through the graduated ‘return to play’ protocols, so he won’t train with us this week,” reported Stuart Lancaster, the England head coach. “It’s fortunate for him and us that we have a fortnight’s break, so if things go well he could be fit to take part in our session next  Monday. We’ll just have to see how things are.”

Lancaster revealed that the Rugby Football Union sanctioned extra medical assistance for the Italy match – a positive reaction to events on Six Nations opening night in Cardiff, when the Wales wing George North took two heavy blows to the head, the second of which knocked him out, yet continued to play. “What happened at the Millennium Stadium brought the concussion issue into sharper focus and our procedures were reviewed and updated as a result,” the coach said. “An extra match-day doctor was brought in and he had access to television footage from all the different angles.”

 

England’s regular support team, headed by Dr Nigel Jones, includes three full-time physiotherapists and a sports scientist as well as fitness and conditioning experts. Their life was made easier on  Saturday by the fact that Brown stayed down after the collision with Masi. In Cardiff, the situation was confused by the fact that North was back on his feet within seconds of hitting the deck.

Should Brown be ruled out of the Dublin date – he could, like North, be ordered to sit out a game even if he passes all the relevant tests – it is not clear which way Lancaster would jump on the full-back front. Alex Goode of Saracens is theoretically next in line, and the coach was keeping a close eye on his contribution in yesterday’s Premiership game with Bath.

But Anthony Watson, who performed strongly at No 15 on Saturday after relocating from the right wing, is another candidate, especially as there are other strike runners – Jack Nowell of Exeter and Marland Yarde of Harlequins, to name but two – with recent Test experience in the wide role.

Three of England’s many walking wounded – the centres Brad Barritt and Kyle Eastmond, who were squaring up to each other in the Saracens-Bath game, and the Northampton flanker Tom Wood – are expected to train fully with the national squad towards the end of the week.

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