Marshall to have tests after latest blow

Ulster and Ireland centre to see specialist after suffering third concussion in space of a month

Luke Marshall runs at David Strettle during Ulster’s Heineken Cup defeat by Saracens. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Luke Marshall runs at David Strettle during Ulster’s Heineken Cup defeat by Saracens. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho


Ulster and Ireland centre Luke Marshall will see a specialist this week to determine the extent of his third concussion in four weeks.

Marshall was initially concussed against France, along with midfield partner Brian O’Driscoll, on March 9th but both were passed fit to return against Italy seven days later.

The Irish management followed IRB concussion protocols when making these selection decisions.

Marshall lasted 28 minutes in Rome after sustaining another blow to the head.

On return to Ulster the 22-year-old was stood down by the medical staff, missing the win over Leinster in the Pro12 before resuming training last Monday, April 1st.

He was knocked unconscious for a third time when carry into contact in 68th minute of Saturday’s 27-16 defeat to Saracens at Twickenham in the Heineken Cup quarter-final.

It was also confirmed today that Ulster captain Johann Muller’s surprisingly poor performance on Saturday was partially down to tendon damage to his right bicep, which he suffered early in the game.

Contrary to reports ruling him out for the season, Muller is expected to return in time for Ulster’s last home game of the regular season against Cardiff at Ravenhill on May 3rd.

Capped 24 times by the Springboks up to 2011, the 32-year-old lock has suffered an injury disrupted season, already missing 18 weeks due to a broken thumb, a fractured right arm (requiring the replacement of a metal plate inserted in his forearm due to a previous injury) and a groin strain.

A decision on Marshall’s return is not expected to be made until all the relevant neurological tests are carried out.

The return to play protocols laid out by the IRB led to former Irish international fullback Dr Barry O’Driscoll resigning recently from committee level of rugby’s governing body in protest.

“Rugby is trivialising concussion,” said Dr O’Driscoll.

In the aftermath of Marshall’s most recent head trauma, Ulster coach Mark Anscombe said: “Look, at the end of the day, you want to win these big games but first and foremost you look after the individual. I’ll never as a coach put a guy on the field that could risk his health, I can assure you that.”