Leinster and Ireland flanker Caelan Doris insists he has no regrets over stepping back from playing duties to get thoroughly treated for concussion issues earlier this year.
Doris picked up a head injury just four minutes into his international debut at home to Scotland in February 2020. He bounced back to put in a stellar showing for club and country later in the year.
However, his role in the 2021 Six Nations was once again hindered by issues with concussion. Having been tipped as a potential pick for the Lions squad that summer, Doris elected to seek further consultation over this recurring problem.
Doris addressed the media on Wednesday and admitted that while getting fully checked was ultimately the more prudent move, the disappointment from the Scotland game still weighed heavily on his mind when making the decision to step away.
"It was extremely frustrating to go off within 4 minutes, and then obviously I missed the next game. Then, I was on the bench against England, and Covid came," Doris said.
"It was a pretty challenging period in a way, with the Lions at the end of the season and the Six Nations being crucial, and wanting to have a crack at that."
Doris: "In the end, we stayed on the safe side."
"Initially, it was unknown how long I was gonna be out for," Doris added. "[I was] in constant communication with a specialist over in Birmingham."
"It was 'play it by ear' for a little bit. I was doing the graduated return to contact with Hugh Hogan, where we started off with 40-50% hitting the bag, then gradually building it back up to try and increase my threshold around contact."
"In the end, we stayed on the safe side and took a little bit longer. It meant missing La Rochelle and the rest of the Six Nations, but I'm glad I did it."
Doris also spoke about the concussion issues suffered by his brother, Rian. Rian, two years his senior, picked up a non-rugby-related knock which impacted his chances of playing schools rugby.
Doris admits those events may have influenced his decision to get checked out.
"That was probably in the background, a little bit," Doris said. "It certainly wasn't at the front of my decision-making."
"Mine was a pretty different set of circumstances. Whereas his was one major event, I had a couple of smaller ones."
"But seeing the struggles he had made me want to get on top of it sooner."
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