I was thinking I had seen things; the test was played at some ungodly hour of Sunday morning, and there was a lot happening in those frantic final minutes. With Kerr-Barlow’s injury, the strange circumstances around the Messam penalty (and can we please get over Wayne Barnes), and the penalty kick itself there was a lot going on.
So had I imagined that Conrad Smith had left the field with concussion that got me to update the Open Letter to Conrad Smith blog?
After all, there has been nothing reported on the incident in the wash-up. Plenty of slow-motion replays of Kerr-Barlow’s injury, much Barnes angst, and justified talk about the role of home broadcaster. Even Jeremy Thrush’s head knock has received passing reference.
But MySKY is a wonderful thing. I checked.
At 67:18 Smith makes a tackle on a Springbok. Nisbett: “We’ve already had two concussions”. Marshall: “That doesn’t look good”
68:38. Johnson: “Conrad Smith’s still out there, he’s holding the back of his head.”
Dane Coles scores the try to put New Zealand in the lead. Johnson again: “Conrad Smith has joined Thrush on the bench; Ryan Crotty is on. Can he close it out, in the absence of one of New Zealand’s players, Conrad Smith?”
This is an extraordinary air-brushing of history and reality. Of all people, along with Kieran Read, this should be of huge concern to the New Zealand public.
The symbolism is stark. Like dealing with the wider issue itself, we are deciding that a decent bit of burying the head in the sand is the best approach. So, so wrong.
UPDATE: To highlight the absurdity of it all, it has now been announced that Ben Smith will be rested for the Bledisloe Cup coffer filler in Brisbane in ten days’ time. Yes, Ben not Conrad.
Ben needs a rest apparently, despite not having a history of concussion, let alone a recent occurrence of it. This means that Conrad would appear even more likely to turn out at the wrong time. Meanwhile the silence around it all blares out loudly.