Newport Gwent Dragons: Adam Hughes feared he may have to retire

Adam Hughes
Adam Hughes hopes to become a commercial aeroplane pilot after his rugby career ends
European Challenge Cup: Brive v Newport Gwent Dragons
Date: Saturday, 21 January Venue: Stade Amedee Domenech, Brive Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Newport Gwent Dragons three-quarter Adam Hughes feared he would have to retire after suffering concussion during a pre-season match in August.

Hughes was out for five months after what he describes as "a bad knockout".

"At the start, when I was really struggling, the thought does go through your mind and you have to battle against those thoughts if you want to come back," said the 26-year-old.

"But the last four months have been really good."

Hughes returned as a wing replacement in Friday's 34-10 European Challenge Cup win over Siberian side Enisei-STM.

He said the club and their medical team had been "amazing" during his time on the sidelines, adding: "I can't thank them enough. They haven't rushed me, which is key with concussions."

Hughes is in his second spell with the Welsh side after a season at Exeter Chiefs and a loan period at Bristol.

He says he felt the mental and physical effects of the knock against Cardiff Blues for two months.

"I struggled memory-wise, my memory and concentration were really poor," he said.

"But what we've done for five months is build the threshold to exercise.

"At the start I was really struggling and anything [that increased my] heart-rate, my head was starting to go, but you do more and more each week."

Testing return

Hughes said he was "relieved" to come through a severe test immediately after coming on against the Siberian side.

"There've been a lot of ups and downs, but there's no better way than to have the biggest wing I've ever seen run straight at you, it's a great way of testing you," he said.

"It was only a split-second and I did the thing I promised I wouldn't do - I dived head-first straight at his legs and that was a good confidence-booster for the rest of the 25 minutes."

'Invisible injury'

Hughes is backing attempts by World Rugby to reduce head knocks by tightening up the interpretation of high-tackle laws and the management of head injuries, which came into effect on 3 January 2017.

"I think they're doing the right thing and they're going the right way, but I'm not sure how much these new rules will help with concussion," he said.

"It is going to be a big part of rugby going forward and I think the medical staff are treating it correctly now. You just can't be rushed with concussion.

"The hardest thing is that it's invisible. When you've got it and you try to get people to understand how it works, it's really hard."

The Dragons need to beat Brive on Saturday to reach the Challenge Cup knockout stages for the third consecutive season.

Hughes said: "Last year, one of the highlights of my career was getting through to the semi-final of Europe and the journey was awesome.

"We've done quite well in France over the last few years so we've got to go there with confidence."

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