It’s becoming an alarmingly regular occurrence now for Chiefs players to find their playing time cut short due to concussion.
Ben Afeaki and Sean Polwart were forced into early retirements in 2015 and 2017 respectively, whilst Kane Hames hasn’t taken the field in over two seasons.
The likes of Charlie Ngatai and Sam McNicol both spent long stints on the sideline, with McNicol returning to the side for the Chiefs’ upcoming campaign after missing the previous two seasons. Ngatai took his trade to France last year and thankfully hasn’t had any major relapses.
New All Black Luke Jacobson is another up and coming player who has spent more time on the sidelines than on the park thanks to concussion with his latest recurrence forcing him out of the World Cup.
It seems like one more Chief has fallen foul of one of rugby’s most insidious problems, with Stuff reporting that hooker Liam Polwart (younger brother of Sean) wasn’t included in the 2020 squad due to concussion issues.
Polwart had a breakout campaign for the Chiefs in 2018, making 14 appearances as the first-choice backup to All Black Harris. He then went on to captain Bay of Plenty in the Mitre 10 Cup at the tail end of the year but took a head knock during the Super Rugby pre-season.
That head knock has seen Polwart accrue minimal minutes this year, with just a smattering of appearances for the Chiefs and zero game-time for Bay of Plenty in their Championship run.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 5, 2019
It’s understood that Polwart will take an indefinite leave from the game for the upcoming future. It’s a major setback for the former Under 20 and Maori All Black rake who will have had higher aspirations after earning 25 caps for the Chiefs.
Polwart would have also likely have benefited from spending plenty of time with new coach Warren Gatland, himself a former All Blacks hooker.
Still, the Chiefs are well-stocked in their front row, with their selected hookers having ample experience between themselves. They’ll also be supported by three All Blacks props in the form of Angus Ta’avao, Atu Moli and Nepo Laulala.
The Chiefs’ most triumphant local school, Hamilton Boys’ High, welcomed RugbyPass into their grounds to learn what drives the school’s rugby success:
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