WORSENING side-effects from concussion have forced gutsy Melbourne Rebels breakaway Michael Lipman to immediately retire because of fears of what his life might become if he suffered one more knock to the head.
Lipman, one of the Rebels' best players in their inaugural season last year, shocked teammates yesterday afternoon with his decision, which has come as a result of lingering side-effects from a concussion earlier this season - the latest of what he estimated to be more than 30 cases throughout his career.
''The bottom line is that throughout my career I've had so many bangs to the head and I've had so much concussion … the last couple have been the icing on the cake,'' Lipman said.
''I've just had too many. Enough's enough and when you're body's talking to you like it is now, you've got to listen to it and be sensible because the hardest thing in anything really is to admit that your time is up and to come to terms with it.''
The 32-year-old, who yesterday revealed he went against medical advice to retire in 2009 when playing for English club Bath because of concerns about his concussions, said the side effects had become too debilitating for him to play on.
''It [headache] is always there and you can feel the pressure in your head and when you start running and training it makes it a lot worse,'' said Lipman, who was off contract this season.
''You're just very confused really, and you're hazy and you're very clouded and not many things make sense.
''You just become very, very tired. You become exhausted straight away and you feel like going to sleep, when it should really be the opposite, because when you start working and training, the endorphins release and you get a pick-up. You shouldn't get totally down the way I've been.''
The Rebels are expected to make an official announcement on Lipman's retirement this morning.
Lipman was born in London, but grew up in Sydney and made the Australian under-21 team. However, he played 10 Tests for England.
The concussion and a back injury have limited Lipman's playing time this year, but the open-side breakaway will be remembered for his impressive form last season when, along with Gareth Delve and Jarrod Saffy, he formed a formidable back row in a struggling team.
''I'll miss the whole spectacle and running out to thousands of people, and I'll miss playing with my mates, and I'll miss the banter but, most of all, I'll just miss measuring myself against the best players and learning a lot about yourself,'' Lipman said. ''That's the ultimate challenge, but now I've got a new challenge, so I'm to put everything into that.
''I've been very lucky to have the career that I've had. I've travelled around the world and met such a great network of people but, at the end of the day, I'd like to have a healthy life. There is life after rugby. I'm just really looking forward to the next chapter in my life.''
Lipman also said he wanted to speak about the issues and concerns that he has faced with concussion because it could help other players, and not only those in rugby union.
''There are loads of things going on with concussion at the moment, and it is such a huge aspect in rugby as well as AFL, but the side effects are unknown,'' Lipman said.
''Everyone's getting bigger, stronger and faster, [but] the brain's the brain, if you drop a computer that many times eventually it's not going to turn back on.''