WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Rookie All Blacks backrower Luke Jacobson has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup in Japan after displaying symptoms of concussion.
Head coach Steve Hansen said Jacobson showed no signs of concussion after making his second test appearance off the bench against Tonga on Sept. 7. But symptoms emerged after the All Blacks' first training session in Japan.
There was heightened concern because the 22-year-old has suffered two concussions since July.
"After discussing this latest episode with Luke, as well as our medical team, the decision has been made to, sadly, withdraw him from the tournament," Hansen said. "We all felt that the best thing for him to do is to take a break from rugby until he is symptom-free and ready to return to rugby.
"While it was a tough conversation to have, ultimately it was a very simple decision. We have a duty of care to look after our players and Luke's health is the most important thing above anything else."
Jacobson was a surprise selection in Hansen's 31-man World Cup squad after playing only one test. But as a former New Zealand under-20 captain and after a stand-out Super Rugby season with the Chiefs he was seen as a fast-rising star.
Jacobson's place in the New Zealand squad will be taken by Highlanders back rower Shannon Frizell.
Frizell's selection is a surprise because experienced back rower Liam Squire, who missed the initial squad, was thought to be on standby to cover those positions.
Squire ruled himself out of New Zealand's Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup tests this year after a limited Super Rugby season, saying he didn't feel "physically and mentally" ready for test rugby.
He has since said he would be "100 percent available" for a late World Cup call-up if he was considered to be playing well enough in New Zealand's National Provincial Championship.
Jacobson said he was "gutted" to miss his first Rugby World Cup.
"I completely understand that this decision has been made with my health and best interests at heart," he said. "I'm feeling 98 percent okay, I know I'm still not quite right and by taking a break now I'll give myself the opportunity to continue my career in the future.
"I wish the team all the very best and will be with them all the way."
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