The penny dropped when Ben Smith did in the opening Super Rugby round: the air must become the next battle ground for rugby safety concerns.

It is frightening to contemplate what damage Smith may have suffered when his head slammed into the turf after he tried to take a bomb against the Chiefs in Dunedin. As the much-loved Highlanders captain lay on the ground for some five minutes, it was time to contemplate what rugby must do to prevent similar disasters.

In the same breath, what on earth are the Chiefs doing by exposing little All Black Damian McKenzie to the perils of playing at fullback under the current rules?

Rugby bosses are moving in the right safety direction and need to be applauded for their stand on everything from dangerous rucking to high tackles despite old guard opposition.


There are diehards who wanted to keep the dark arts, which would have kept the game in the dark ages and sent it towards extinction.

Modern TV cameras expose just about everything, violence is no longer acceptable in sport, and there is escalating concern over brain injuries. Rugby had to take action, and it is doing so.

I believe attention must quickly turn to a new area, the aerial contests, as rugby (and other sports including league) face damning statistics and compelling anecdotal evidence around brain injuries in particular.

A simple rugby rule change would see referees call bombs, requiring kick chasers to back off completely from the receivers allowing them to regain their footing un-touched. In other words, the aerial contest must be eliminated. A positive spin-off would be less knock-ons, more continuity and probably less kicking.

Smith will be sidelined for a few more weeks, which is bad enough. But who knows what long term damage has occurred, how it might affect not only his career, but his life? What occurred is as unacceptable as it is inevitable. It was no accident. More brain and bone damage will continue.

On the same note, I fear for little McKenzie, who at just 1.77m tall is a sitting target so to speak.

He is brave, and flies high for those bombs, and it is not always going to end well. Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has a high-class log jam at No. 10, with his long time favourite Aaron Cruden in the squad. But forcing converted-fullback McKenzie to leap into what has become rugby's greatest danger zone is nuts.

Kieran Foran. Left alone? Not likely - he's headline gold in Australia. Photo / Getty Image.
Kieran Foran. Left alone? Not likely - he's headline gold in Australia. Photo / Getty Image.

Question of the week: Where was the evidence Kieran Foran had contact with the Brisbane Broncos about joining them next year?

Lots of smoke, and absolutely no fire. It is very hard to believe that given Foran's problems, and the Warriors efforts to rehabilitate him, he would already be talking to other clubs.

Which doesn't mean to say he won't head back across the ditch after his one year Warriors contract. There's every chance he will.

But Foran talking to the Broncos at this point? Seriously? There wasn't even a vague quote from anyone in a position of authority or knowledge to back the claim up.

Conclusion: Aussie league is a snake pit full of hidden agendas and people with old scores to settle. Looks like it is open season on Kieran Foran - Warriors boss Jim Doyle and coach Stephen Kearney must be concerned that Foran will be bombarded with and distracted by these claims, and that his presence will become a major distraction in general.