The British & Irish Lions have been criticised for their selection of fly-half Dan Biggar for the second Test, days after leaving the first Test with a concussion.
Biggar started his first Test for the Lions after playing no part against the All Blacks four years ago and being snubbed for selection in 2013.
The Welshman played a big part in the victory over the Springboks, kicking 14 points, but his match was brought to an end on 67 minutes when he was taken off for a HIA following a tackle on Damian de Allende.
Biggar did not return to play and was replaced by Owen Farrell, requiring Elliot Daly to return to the pitch having been originally replaced.
“Unfortunately, I had to go off as when I came out of a ruck Siya Kolisi’s knee whacked me on the side of the head — I feel fine and am already buzzing for next week,” Biggar said in his column for the Daily Mail.
Optimism for Biggar being match-ready has been shared by the Lions coaching and medical staff, as he partners Conor Murray this Saturday against South Africa.
But his selection has been met by newly-formed concussion lobbying group Progressive Rugby.
“As British and Irish Lions fans, Progressive Rugby want world-class players like Dan Biggar on the pitch against South Africa.
“However, the immediate and long-term welfare of any player has to come first irrespective of their value to the team or situation.
“This was the fifth concussion we are aware of that Biggar has suffered in less than two years. Given the increased risk that brings of further concussive episodes, and that he still has to pass the current return to play protocol, we hope the final decision is based on a highly specialised neurological examination from an independent consultant.”
Two weeks ago World Rugby introduced a host of advancements to its concussion protocols, including a wider use of Independent Concussion Consultants (ICCs) at Test level.
As medical professionals who are funded by World Rugby, ICCs have been present during World Cups but will review cases across the planet when players have passed ten days after their concussion.
Current guidance means Biggar will have to pass six stages of its Return to Play protocols, given he did not pass his HIA.
Each stage of the protocol must be carried out 24 hours apart, with Biggar expected to train with the Lions squad on Thursday.