Rugby: Education key in understanding concussion handling - All Blacks

The education in the handling of concussion in rugby is an on-going process, but All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster believes they are on the right track.

Foster and his selection cohorts have had their fair share of headaches as they try to juggle multiple concussion issues to members of their squad, including key players Ryan Crotty and Ben Smith.

Crotty has dealt with five separate concussions since May 19, 2017, and has just recovered from the latest setback he suffered against the Blues at Eden Park last month.

Foster said each case is different, but the general strategy is the same: caution.

"It's a different recovery plan," Foster told media on Tuesday.

"If it was say a muscular strain, then we could work at other parts of the game like the mental skills. If someone does have a head knock then you have to stay away from that space.

"It's just another type of rehab and part of that education has been for us coaches to understand that, making sure our expectations match up with the medical expectations - and I think the game as a whole is doing very well with that.

"The world is learning about it. It's not just a rugby issue, we are all learning the best way of how to treat it."

There is growing concern about the long-term playing future of Crotty given his recent struggles.

However the 29-year-old said retirement isn't a consideration at this point given the medical treatment and advice he has received.

"If I wasn't to bounce back from one [concussion] as quickly as I tend to, then maybe you would think like that [giving up rugby]," he says.

"Potentially if they start to get worse. They are really diligent with it in the environment so you meet with some experienced doctors and I do a lot of diligence around it myself.

"At the start of each season I get tested to make sure that I am round the same point each season.

"If that was starting to trend badly then that would be something I would look at a little more deeply, but until then I am happy to keep going out there and keep putting my body on the line."

"That's kind of how the doctors set it out, but it is a little bit different to your hamstring because it is your brain, but you are just as diligent and make sure it is right before you come back and play again."

All Blacks vice-captain Smith agrees with Crotty's assessment.

The fullback, himself familiar to concussion recovery believes it's all about being honest with yourself and the medical experts.

"You just have to follow the procedure and trust the people in the know like doctors and trainers. The big thing is a lot of them are different.

"I had a few things that led to vertigo, for instance. You can get different symptoms, so it's important to know where you are at and be honest with the doctors and trust the process.

"I think it is always important to be honest with the doctors so they know how you are feeling," he said.

Both Smith and Crotty are fit and raring to go against France on Saturday if selected.