Irish player claims Sale Sharks mismanaged a concussion that eventually forced him to retire
The news comes on the back of another Irish player retiring due to concussion this week.
Cillian Willis was an extremely promising scrum-half that made a name for himself with Blackrock then UCD before making his Leinster debut at the age of 21.
Despite a good Irish underage pedigree, including seven U21 caps, and two spells with Leinster, he never pushed on to become a regular and a full international. In between, he had stints with Connacht and Ulster.
He moved to Sale Sharks early in 2011/12 and made 30 appearances for them before picking up a concussion in an LV Cup game, in 2013, that would eventually finish his career at the age of 28.
Now, according to the Daily Mail, Willis is taking legal action against the Aviva Premiership side for what he feels was a poor mismanagement of his concussion. Willis was knocked out during the game, against Saracens, yet returned to the field after treatment and played on.
According to the report, Willis' case is the first of its kind against a Premiership club for medical negligence. Any eventual ruling could well set a precedent for rugby clubs, and courts, in England.
Speaking to The Irish Examiner after hanging up his boots in 2011, Willis said:
"Sometime you need some luck and maybe I didn’t have that with injuries. I have broken around 15 bones, have had double vision in one eye after an operation and my back has been giving me problems.
“And when you look at all the retirements from the pro game lately it makes you think. What will it be like in 10 or 15 years? The game is played at a phenomenal intensity with massive men bashing off each other. It is a massively rewarding game to play but is unbelievably attritional."
In the end, one of the last hits Willis received on the field of play could turn out to be the most costly for his long-term health.
Sale Sharks have refused to comment on the case as it is ongoing.
On Wednesday of this week, Connacht's Dave McSharry (26) retired due to concussion. Last season, Declan Fitzpatrick and Kevin McLaughlin were both advised to retire after sustaining multiple head injuries.
Massive Mayo v Tipperary preview plus a big interview with Eamon McGee in the latest GAA Hour. Subscribe here on iTunes.