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England international Joe Marler has admitted he still “buries (his) head in the sand” over concussion fears, even after a frightening incident that led him to forget he was a father.
The Harlequins prop described being knocked “out cold” several years ago after attempting a tackle and, upon waking up in the physio room, being asked by the kit man if his wife was accompanied by their children.
Marler did not know what the man was talking about.
“He said, ‘What about the kids?’. I went, ‘Pardon?’. And he said, ‘Has she brought the kids?’,” the 32-year-old told talkSPORT.
“I just paused and broke down and I had no recollection of having kids and it just really scared the life out of me.
“It all came back together and it happens. Those concussions happen in rugby, it’s a contact sport.
“Since those moments I just ignore it and bury my head in the sand, but the more it comes out and the more apparent it becomes in the sport, the more boys are getting diagnosed with this stuff, it’s sad.”
Marler was reacting to ex-Wales captain Ryan Jones’ devastating diagnosis of early-onset dementia, which he revealed over the weekend.
The 41-year-old father of three children and three stepchildren, who captained Wales 33 times, received a December diagnosis of probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), thought to be caused by repeated impacts to the head. It was, said his doctors, one of the worst cases they had ever seen.
Jones has now joined a group of former players, including former England World Cup winner Steve Thompson, in taking legal action against World Rugby, the Welsh Rugby Union and the Rugby Football Union over concussion prevention.
Marler revealed it took a strong word from his wife, Daisy, to make him see sense after a concussion last season.
Although he had initially elected just to “crack on”, she reminded him of his responsibility to their children.
He added: “She was like, ‘No, I’m not having it any more. If you get a head knock, you follow the right protocols and you tell someone, because it’s not about you anymore’.”