Perry Baker column: I'm ready to take big hits again after concussion

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I cannot wait to get back out on the pitch with my United States teammates here in Sydney on Friday, after being unable to play my part in the first two legs of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai and Cape Town. I was concussed in the opening seconds of our first pool game in Dubai and then had to sit out Cape Town as I recovered from that concussion.

I know that with the title of HSBC World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year there will be an expectation on me here, but I have to look past that and stay focused on what I need to do on the pitch. I am disappointed that I have not been able to showcase everything and I know fans will be waiting to see what I can deliver after winning such a prestigious award. I felt I let everyone down in Dubai.

That is why I am so excited to be playing again and all through preseason -- which started in September and went right up to Dubai at the start of December -- I was just desperate to get out there and play. We have Australia in our pool and the strength of Sevens has grown every year, when I first came on the circuit certain teams were guaranteed a win but a couple of years later that wasn't the case and now every team has the capability of pulling off a win and that makes it really exciting and a huge challenge for everyone.

This is what makes the World Series one of sport's most unique and extraordinary events, the fact that any team can suffer a loss makes it a lot of fun and I am sure the crowd will be totally into our opening game with Australia.

It took me most of December to recover from the knock I took to the head and initially it was difficult to manage everything because I had to work out what effect was the concussion and what was the jet lag of flying back home from Dubai. I wasn't feeling myself and knew I could be tired and it took around four or five weeks to feel totally okay.

I followed all of the head injury assessment [HIA] protocols but it was incredibly frustrating and I was going insane wanting to work out and having to do things step by step. I had to make a decision about the Cape Town leg and it was pretty bad to have to miss that one having been ruled out of Dubai in the opening seconds of my first game.

I had never suffered a concussion before and didn't even know that I had walked off the pitch in Dubai. There was no memory at all and I felt so bad because I was concerned that things hadn't gone well for the team because they may have been worried about me. When the Cape Town leg was taking place I was training with our medical and physio staff having started just jogging, then walking and ball passing, with a break to see how I felt before progressing to the next stage. Although there are not as many contact situations in Sevens as 15s you can still take a heavy hit in contact or in a tackle and everything is happening so fast.

I am absolutely confident I am ready to take the big hits again thanks to my teammates who have been testing me out with some really strong tackles ever since I started training again.

This a special year with Sevens being part of the Commonwealth Games for all of those countries who will be involved -- growing the sport is so important and that is why being able to stage the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco is going to be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the game. The men's and women's Sevens teams will have this outstanding platform in the U.S. during the tournament and it is going to be a very important moment for the game at home and around the world.

The World Sevens Series features wonderful players who are crowd pleasers and the fans get caught up in the hi-octane action and I cannot wait to get started again. This has been my longest preseason ever and I am desperate to get out there and help my teammates create some more wonderful memories.