Luke Jacobson first Injury-related casualty of RWC2019

KASHIWA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 13: Luke Jacobson of the All Blacks talks to the media with Head coach Steve Hansen and team doctor Tony Page during a New Zealand All Blacks press conference at Kashiwa-no-ha Park Stadium on September 13, 2019 in Kashiwa, Japan. Jacobson has announced he will be heading home from the Rugby World Cup after suffering concussion symptoms. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

After all the competing teams were named, sides landed in Japan and began their first week of training and preparations, fans heard of the first injury-related casualty of RWC2019. Luke Jacobson was unlucky when his concussion symptoms saw him removed early from the tournament.

The New Zealand player, a relatively new addition to the All Blacks camp, has a history of issues with head injuries. Concussion protocols for the individual appear to have been followed but, in the words of head coach Steve Hansen, “We have a duty of care to look after our players and Luke’s health is the most important thing above anything else.”

Jacobson may be the first, but he will no doubt not be the only player who succumbs to injury. Fitness and squad rotation is critical, considering the 31-man squads. So in relation to the opening match, and subsequent games, having a healthy group from September 20th onward, is very important.

Luke Jacobson first Injury-related casualty of RWC2019

Most team selections are for players whose fitness is not questioned. The majority have met their targets, while a few will be building towards goals that are achievable. That is all part of the meticulous planning by medical staffs, which has been in action for months; if not a year.

Only a handful would have brought questions or target-dates with them, that are injury-related. Names who have those pressures on them, include Jordan Petaia (Australia), Jack Nowel and Mako Vunipola (England), as well as others.

Concussion is not one concern that any player would wish to want to ‘manage’ so suffering the delayed onset of concussion, has sadly affected the New Zealand team early.

Steve Hansen was quoted during his press conference, as saying “After discussing this latest episode with Luke, as well as our medical team, the decision has been made to, sadly, withdraw him from the tournament.

“We all felt that the best thing for him to do is to take a break from rugby until he is symptom-free and ready to return to rugby.”

That means that Shannon Frizell will be called into the squad, and Luke Jacobson will stay in Japan until he is fit to travel. And it puts a focus on the demands on squad members, during any opposed trainings, and contact sessions. No point in risking any disruptions now, for little gain.

More disturbances from Injuries (no doubt) to come

Not looking at any rumours or suspicions, but the chances of more names being listed alongside Luke Jacobson is sure to grow. Not only due to the nature of the sport, as much as misfortune for some players.

Already, reports out of the Ireland camp have named Robbie Henshaw as being under a cloud, with a hamstring as a suspected injury that could put his Cup dreams in doubt.

The Irishman had a similar scare in 2015, missing several matches, but this is a fresh concern, as Ireland prepare to meet Scotland on September 22.

Another name who possibly has his coaches and medical staff concerned may be Sonny Bill Williams. A player who has had setbacks already to his year could be hampered again. No confirmation has come out of the All Blacks camp – in fact they have ‘shot down’ the rumours, even though they will be a factor across this tournament, with players welfare high on the list of contributing factors to success.

No side can retain individuals who may not play a full part in pool games. However, the only confirmed player from the New Zealand camp who is limited because of his ongoing recovery from any injury, is Brodie Retallick.

Carrying players is not a Positive at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Brodie Retallick might be the highest-profile player to be taken to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, who will not participate until the final pool game [or later]. To mitigate against Retallick’s expected absence – he is also likely to miss the pool games against Namibia, Canada, and Italy – the All Blacks have named four locks in the squad.

Brodie Retallick of the All Blacks suffers a dislocated shoulder during the 2019 Rugby Championship Test Match between New Zealand and South Africa at Westpac Stadium on July 27, 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Steve Hansen made the remark that, “We don’t expect him to play in the round-robin. We’re reasonably sure – and no disrespect to anyone else in our pool – that we will make the quarter-finals. And from there we don’t know.”

So having one of your group not playing, adds undue pressure. So if Henshaw or Williams cannot participate, it can be a negative on the squad. Although, all three players are certainly world-class, the options are still limited even with all other players being fully fit.

Niggles to any number of players can be managed but from the opening clashes from Friday on, factors like rest days between matches all must be considered. That applies to all 20 sides; no matter the quality of the player.

For Luke Jacobson, his future role in the World Cup is over. He might no be alone, as the seven week-long tournament is very likely to claim more victims, as well as fulfill dreams for players who reach the Cup final on November 2.

 

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