MAITLAND lock Michael Howell ended a playing stint in France early because of a series of head knocks.
Again, he has vowed to put his health before a desire to play in the Blacks' preliminary final against Wanderers at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday.
Howell suffered delayed concussion after an accidental head clash with Wanderers centre Nimi Qio in the qualifying semi-final, which the Two Blues won a fortnight ago.
"It was the most innocuous event," Howell said. "He must have just got me on the sweet spot. We went in for a clean out and arrived at the same time."
Howell played on but later suffered headaches and double vision.
He was cleared of serious damage after an MRI last Thursday and will attend the Newcastle concussion clinic on Tuesday for a final tick.
"I had an MRI on Thursday and they confirmed I have some equipment up there," Howell said with a laugh. "I did have a bit of a history of concussions when I was playing in France.
"That was a big reason why I came home. I had to have a few months off. I will see what they say at the concussion clinic. Health comes first and the desire to play finals comes later."
Howell and Travis Brooke, who also suffered a head knock in the qualifying semi, sat out the Blacks' 25-17 win over Merewether in the minor semi-final on Sunday.
"When they get the job done without you, those are the happiest days ever," Howell said. "It will be hard to get a gig in the team next week any way."
In a boost, Brooke is likely to return Saturday.
"Travis still has a process to go through but he should be fine," Maitland coach Matt Thomas said.
The Blacks missed Brooke's presence at the lineout against Merewether.
"Travis is the best lineout jumper in the competition," Thomas said. "Without him, we were under a lot of pressure at the set piece."
Wanderers welcome back Dan Kevill from suspension.
However, they could be without skipper Ben Ham, who will front the judiciary on Wednesday after being sent off for two yellow cards in the 34-19 loss to Hamilton in the major semi.