John Hardie happy to take slow road back for Scotland after concussion

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Scotland flanker John Hardie insists there was no way he was going to rush his return from concussion after watching a blow to the head destroy his friend's rugby career.

The back-rower has sat out the last two World Cup clashes after suffering a head injury in Scotland's Pool B opener with Japan.

His injury only became apparent after the match in Gloucester - where he scored his side's first try - but he was barred from resuming action by team doctor James Robson when he failed the return-to-play tests.

However, after finally meeting the protocol requirements he is now back in Vern Cotter's line-up as Scotland chase a quarter-final slot in Saturday's final group clash with Samoa in Newcastle.

But even though he admits to being frustrated at having to miss the five-try win over the United States and last weekend's defeat to South Africa, the 27-year-old was never going to risk his health.

He said: "It was frustrating but our doctor Robson is a great man and he makes the calls. I respect him.

"It was two weeks but it felt like a couple of months to be honest. I've been through all the protocols now and got the all clear. It's awesome to be putting on the Scotland jersey again.

"I wasn't worried that it was more serious - it wasn't really a bad head knock, it was just a test that I failed a couple of times.

"I've not had anything like this that's kept me out before, so it's a first. I've a couple of mates who have had head knocks and they have been really bad, so I treated it with a lot of respect.

"One was Ben Afeaki. He played for the Waikato Chiefs and also played a game for the All Blacks. I knew him from age-group rugby but he ended up retiring after a concussion. You only get one head, so you can't mess around with it."

The former Highlanders forward has made swift progress since joining up with his adopted nation just two months after leaving his native New Zealand.

Hardie's call-up back in June, just a week after he touched down on Scottish soil for the first time, provoked a storm of protest from the likes of former British and Irish Lion Peter Wright, who argued the national side should be reserved for homegrown talent.

But Hardie - who qualifies through his Fife-born grandparents - has quickly proved his credentials with three solid defensive displays in his first international outings.

Now he hopes to kill off any remaining doubts about his loyalties by becoming an expert on his Scottish heritage.

"It was pretty full-on when I came over first but I'm learning all about my family tree now," he explained.

"My grandmother came over to New Zealand in 1925 on a ship and I've seen her name and her signature on the shipping list.

"We looked up all that sort of stuff and it was really cool to see where she came from.

"Coming over to Scotland was probably one of the best decisions I've ever made. A tough decision but it paid off and I hope it keeps paying off because I'd love to play a lot more games for Scotland."

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