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'It's a worry for the game obviously:' Doug Howlett laments Ben Smith's latest concussion

The All-Blacks legend also paid tribute to Rieko Ioane for a superb performance.

Image: Photosport/Peter Meecham/INPHO

DOUG HOWLETT SAYS that seeing Ben Smith suffer another concussion was an unfortunate sight, but insists that no risks will be taken with his treatment.

Smith was taken off in the first half of New Zealand’s 30-15 victory over the British and Irish Lions in Auckland, and did not return to the pitch after failing a Head Injury Assessment (HIA).

It was Smith’s second head injury in three weeks, and an estimated fifth concussion in the last five years.

Howlett however, believes that all precautions will be taken to protect Smith from further damage, and ensure he makes a full recovery.

“It’s a worry for the game obviously, to see our top players going through that process but there is a protocol now and it’s not left to chance,” he told The42 at Standard Life Investments’ exclusive screening of the first British & Irish Lions Test match in Dublin.

“With the seriousness of these things, you would hope (he would be fit for the next Test) but you just don’t know. There won’t be any risks taken.

“It’s a shame for him because he is one of the key players for the All-Blacks but as we’ve seen, it’s opportunities all round for other All-Black players.

Meanwhile, Howlett was suitably impressed by the scintillating performance of Rieko Ioane, who pocketed two tries in the Test.

His second effort was an exhibition of individual brilliance in which he burned England’s Elliot Daly for pace along the wing, before crossing the whitewash.

Howlett says that the 20-year-old had already been showing flashes of that potential coming into the game.

“He’s showing form through Super Rugby and the Māori game, he’s showing a bit of form and obviously he’s in the training camps so the coaches are seeing what he’s doing.

“It’s interesting to hear the commentators today say he leaves everyone for dust in the speed tests.

Doug Howlett Doug Howlett pictured at Standard Life Investments' exclusive screening of the first British & Irish Lions Test match in Fitzwilliam Square. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

“That’s a comfort to have the fastest player on the field.”

Howlett also complimented captain Kieran Read, who returned to skipper the side following a six-week lay-off with a thumb injury.

Read was treated to a standing ovation from the home crowd when he was substituted in the 78th minute, after an exceptional display.

“I thought Kieran Read was outstanding, considering the time off that he’s had. Sam Cane as well in those tight battles — so many guys stood up.”

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Doug Howlett was speaking at the Standard Life Investments exclusive screening of the first British & Irish Lions Test match in Fitzwilliam Square.

Standard Life Investments is Principal Partner and jersey sponsor of the 2017 tour to New Zealand. For further information please visit  thelions.standardlifeinvestments.com.

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