Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley was never expecting to miss a week of rugby, let alone a month, after an innocuous collision at Brookvale Oval.
Yet four games have now passed since the playmaker last donned a sky blue jersey, with false starts and lingering symptoms troubling him along the way.
He was given as late as last Friday’s captain’s run before being withdrawn from the Waratahs team to face the Brumbies, but just couldn’t shake the dizziness and blurred vision after training sessions.
“It’s something that when you first initially get the head knock you think you’ll be right in a week, but obviously (that’s not what happened),” Foley said.
“It’s my first concussion and it’s just symptoms that have lingered, especially after I’ve pushed [myself] in training sessions, it’s just pulled up not too well, you feel a bit dazed and a bit out of it.”
The Waratahs were adamant through Foley’s absence that he would have all the time he needed to be cleared and the 27-year-old said it was up to players to ensure they were honest in their recovery, to avoid serious health problems.
“Head issues are something that we have to take with the highest of importance and treat it carefully,” he said.
“Every player’s individual and they’ve got to be honest and know their own bodies and report it properly because that’s where long-term injuries exist.”
Foley’s return is timely for a Waratahs team staring down a 1-3 start to the year, in a backline that has been dramatically changed for a crucial Australian derby against the Rebels.
Having Jake Gordon inside him in his first Super Rugby start instead of long-time partner Nick Phipps, and David Horwitz at 12 leaves Foley as the driver of the inside backs, but the Wallabies flyhalf said he didn’t feel that laid an extra burden on him.
“I don’t think the team’s looking for anything extra for a 10, except to go there and do the job for the team,” he said.
“Maybe I will shoulder a bit more leadership but I think it’s for the whole team to step up and carry a bit of this and make it a bit personal in terms of (showing) we’re here to play the Waratahs style and we don't want other teams to get in the way or not allowing us to.
“I think that’s a bit of ownership put on every player ... to go out here and make it personal and really go out there and impose ourselves on the game.” - Bernard Foley
Though he mightn't feel that burden, Foley's return is just as significant as any other change, including Israel Folau's return to fullback, the team's mainstay at 10 for the better part of the last four years.
Foley backed Israel Folau to do just that, as the star returns to the fullback spot that made him one of the biggest threats in world rugby.
“I think it's a way to get Israel into the game in a position he knows and the way that teams are going to look to try and not kick him the ball or keep him out of the game,” he said.
“It’s a great challenge for Israel to get into the game but also to be effective for the team and just be lively in the back there.
“He attracts a lot of defenders in that front line and in that back field, his ability to sniff around and pop up where he sees a hole is phenomenal."
The Waratahs take on the Rebels at 7:45pm AEDT LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via radio on RUGBY.com.au.