World Cup winner Kat Merchant reveals she still suffers as a result of head injuries that forced her to retire
Former England rugby star and 2014 World Cup winner Kat Merchant has revealed she still suffers from symptoms of concussion six years after retiring from the sport as a result of head injuries.
The Gloucester-born ex-player was forced to hang up her boots at the age of just 28 after she was advised by medical experts to retire following 11 concussions in just 14 seasons.
And amid recent calls from brain injury charity Headway for more research into whether women are more susceptible to concussion than men, Merchant has now opened up about the impact of concussions on her after retirement.
"I have a lower cognitive capacity," she told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"I can't do a hundred things at once without getting a headache or getting flustered or without forgetting my words.
"For retired players it's a bit like, ‘Thanks for your time, thanks for putting your body on the line for however many years, goodbye’.
“I really suffered because I retired on medical grounds at 28, before my time. I really struggled with a loss of identity so I would have appreciated more help mentally as well.”
The Rugby Football Union told the BBC : "The RFU takes player welfare incredibly seriously.
"The introduction of the Premier 15s three years ago and the 28 full-time England contracts has allowed us to improve concussion surveillance, education and management specifically within the women's game."
England men’s World Cup winner Stephen Thompson recently confirmed he is one of eight players who are planning to sue rugby’s authorities over brain damage they suffered during their career.