Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley is being sent home from South Africa, still suffering concussion symptoms from a pre-season head knock.
Foley has already missed two matches after a head knock in the Waratahs’ trial match against the Highlanders on February 16, but has been unable to shake the effects in that time.
The playmaker will return to Sydney on Sunday night (AEDT) to be assessed by a neurologist, with Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson unable to put a date on his playing return.
“It’s terribly frustrating for him at the moment, he desperately wants to be out on the field and he’s just not quite 100 per cent," he said.
“He’s hanging in that zone where he certainly can’t be cleared to play so we believe the best thing for him is to go back to Sydney.
“It’s a really unknown one.
“The hope that he recovers quickly but the best course of action is for him to return to Sydney.”
Gibson said Foley, who has no history of serious head knocks, was still having headaches and light sensitivity.
“He’s feeling very heavy in his head, low grade headaches, particularly in any form of exercise,” he said.
“He’s been photosensitive during that time, so he’s experiencing all the classic signs of post-concussion and the symptoms that go along with it." - Daryl Gibson
“One of those things that a number of players have suffered that in the past, it does improve with time, the unknown question is how long.
"So we want to set him on a course of action that, in terms of trying to investigate further, if there’s any other underlying problems.”
The Waratahs don’t have to look far to see how long concussion can keep players out of action for, with the Chiefs Charlie Ngatai missing most of last season and Hurricanes lock James Broadhurst still unsure of his return close to 18 months after a knock.
It’s a plight former All Black Gibson understands personally, having sat out 10 weeks with concussion in one stint during his career.
In more positive news for the Waratahs, Nick Phipps (ankle) and Will Skelton (hamstring) are both expected to line up for NSW’s clash with the Sharks.
Jake Gordon was flown over as a replacement for Phipps last week, coming off the bench for his Super Rugby debut, but no replacement will be added for Foley with the maximum 27 players in camp.
The Waratahs take on the Sharks next Sunday morning at 4:30am AEDT.