Scotland hooker Fraser Brown yesterday claimed that those criticising Ireland’s medical team for failing to remove Cian Healy from the fray during Saturday’s international should learn to get their facts right before offering opinions.

The Glasgow Warrior spent more than two months on the sidelines recently as specialists investigated why he has repeated successive concussions and his return to the national squad just last week coincided with the launch of the “If in doubt, sit them out,” campaign, designed to urge all involved in sport to err on the side of caution whenever head injuries occur.

That approach seemed to be contradicted in Dublin on Saturday when Ireland prop Healy appeared to get up after receiving medical treatment, then stagger in ungainly fashion towards the next ruck, but Brown explained that all may not have been as it seemed.

“The biggest concern from a player point of view is that in the age of social media, it is very easy to look from the outside on something and form an opinion without having the details of what is going on,” 
he said.

“I was the subject of that in the last couple of months with lots of people saying I should take the rest of the season off, my health was at serious risk, which it may or may not have been.

“I don’t know the details of Cian at the weekend, nobody does. I have complete trust that the Irish medics know what they are doing just as I have trust in ours and the Welsh and English have trust in their medics. It is a dangerous place to be sitting on the outside trying to cast aspersions on what is going on and not having your faith and trust in the guys who have the best interest of the players at heart.”

Following Scotland’s latest defeat on the road in the NatWest 6 Nations, continuing what has been an abysmal record over the past 20 years, Brown meanwhile dismissed the suggestion that their collective problems are all in their heads.

“When you look at a lot of the games over the past two to three years, you can see how we can compete with the best in the world, which we highlighted again at the weekend, but you also see how a couple of mistakes highlight the gulf, which is just a tiny percentage,” he pointed out. 

“That can only change by playing well with both pro teams and taking that confidence and consistency forward to playing with Scotland. We’re not far away, it’s not a mental block, it’s habit. We need to get used to winning, even when we don’t play well. Consistency comes from habit.”
He also claimed that while Irish players have had a physical and mental edge because of the environment they have grown up in, that is beginning to change.

“When you compare the environment that the 15, 16, 17, 18-year-olds are in now with what it was when I was at school 10 years ago, it is completely different. The level of competition, the level of training, the facilities the guys have access to, it is like night and day,” said Brown.

“They have a bigger player pool to choose from and more opportunities to let their young players get more experience and be exposed more to a competitive environment. It is something we have a little bit of catching up to do, but we are getting there and getting there quickly. You only have to look at the pro teams; you only have to look at Blair [Kinghorn] compared to two years ago to starting on the wing at the weekend. We have Matt Fagerson at Glasgow who is still only 18 or 19 and is one of our best players regularly. The competition is there and the talent is there. We just need more of it but it is 
definitely going in the right direction.”