Cape Town - Former Springbok Pat Lambie has opened up on the pressure he felt playing with concussion.
The 28-year-old confirmed his retirement from rugby earlier this year, with a series of head injuries and the resulting medical advice leaving him with no choice but to cut short his career.
Lambie had been at French club Racing 92 since 2017.
In an interview with UK publication The Times, Lambie went through the details of his most recent concussion, 20 minutes into last year's European Champions Cup semi-final against Munster.
He revealed he played on, not wanting to miss out on a chance of playing in the final.
"I was in combat mode; the height of competition, where the next game is the most important game that I don't want to miss out on and I can't make a sensible or a right decision.
"It was from a scrum, I made a tackle; it was a big collision. I stayed at the bottom of the ruck, feeling dizzy, everything was spinning, (I) tried to get up, sort of wobbled a bit, went back down for the rest of the passage of play, had some ice on my head, sprayed myself with some water, shook it off, said I was fine and carried on,” he recalled.
"In the back of my mind, I was concerned that if I put my hand up and said, 'I need an HIA (head injury assessment),' I wouldn't be allowed back on the field and, worse, if we made it to the final, I wouldn't be allowed to play in that."
The European final was three weeks away, but Lambie refused getting proper medical advice, telling his wife he wasn't feeling great but keeping his condition secret from everyone else.
"I tried to ignore it. I tried to pretend that I was fine, OK. I was trying to lie to myself. It was crazy."
Lambie spent several months on the sidelines after taking a knock to the head in a collision with Ireland flank CJ Stander in a Test at Newlands in June 2016.
He struggled with concussion-related symptoms since that incident at in Cape Town and again suffered a heavy head knock when he collided with Sharks team-mate Rhyno Smith during a Super Rugby clash against the Southern Kings in May 2017.
After signing for Racing 92 at the end of 2017, Lambie signed a new four-year deal with the club in September 2018, but struggled with injuries, most notably an injury to his eye socket and knee.
Lambie, who operated at flyhalf and fullback, played 56 Tests for the Springboks between 2010 and 2016.
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