Rugby: All Black James Broadhurst retires after concussion issues

By Campbell Burnes

James Broadhurst in action during his one test against South Africa. Photosport
James Broadhurst in action during his one test against South Africa. Photosport

Unlike Charlie Ngatai and James Parsons, who both recently cleared long-term concussion symptoms to return to play, James Broadhurst has called time on his rugby career.

The 29-year-old Hurricanes lock, who played one test for the All Blacks in 2015, was badly concussed in the Taranaki v Wellington provincial clash in August 2015 and has not played since then. There was hope at the start of this season that he might be able to see his way back into active rugby, but his symptoms still affect his daily life, so he has made the tough, but prudent, decision, on the advice of medical experts. Broadhurst follows the likes of Ben Afeaki, Sean Polwart and Craig Clarke as recent professionals in New Zealand rugby who have been forced to prematurely end their careers.

"I've been away from the game for a little over 18 months and still experience symptoms which affect my daily life," says Broadhurst in a statement.

"Some extensive efforts have gone into getting me back to sport by medical professionals in and out of rugby. Even though it hasn't resulted in the outcome I had hoped for, I owe each and every one of them a huge debt, as my health has improved massively and this will undoubtedly give me quality of life in the future."

A keen fisherman, Broadhurst has an orchard in the Far North, so that may be a future work avenue for him. His Hurricanes contract ends this season.

The final decision was no surprise for Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd, but he and all the franchise are saddened.

"After a long and hard battle, he's made the decision that there is life at the end of the rugby tunnel. He's had a fantastic network of people around him, but he just got to a certain point where he just couldn't get through that last hurdle," says Boyd.

Of additional concern for the Hurricanes is that centre Matt Proctor has not fully cleared his short-term concussion symptoms, so will need to do so before he is available for selection in next Friday's home clash with the Stormers. Prop Reggie Goodes has had several months out of the game due to concussion. His symptoms return when he ups the training ante.

Broadhurst was the 23rd All Black out of the noted rugby nursery that is Sacred Heart College, but he was also the first out of Gisborne's Campion College, where he completed his schooling.

He went on to play 71 matches for the Hurricanes, 20 for Canterbury, and 55 for Taranaki, including starting in every match during their run to the 2014 Mitre 10 Cup Premiership title.

In 2015, he was a finalist for Super Rugby player of the year after playing a crucial role in the Hurricanes' run to the final.

- NZ Herald

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