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Former All Black Steve Devine speaks about toll of repeated concussions that left him a 'dead man walking'

Former All Blacks and Blues halfback Steve Devine has spoken in detail about the numerous head knocks that ended his rugby career and the headaches and migraines he's had to deal with since.

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Devine said he spent a lot of time in bed trying to sleep off migraines during and after his playing days. Source: Breakfast

Devine spoke about his health on TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning after a new study discussed a link between repeated head knocks and depression.

Devine has previously described himself as being a "dead man walking" at the end of his career.

"It was hard to deal with," Devine said.

"There was fatigue, huge amounts of fatigue, and it was really hard to concentrate for any sort of length of time.

"Most of my time was spent in bed with the curtains drawn, trying to sleep through headaches and migraines and those sorts of things."

Adding to Devine's woes was the fact that there weren't studies around like the one released this morning back in the early 2000s when he played.

"There wasn't a lot of information around about the head knocks," he said.

"Even when I first started suffering severely, the doctors still weren't sure what I had.

"I know a lot has changed over the last few years, but back then there was a lot of players from my era that it was just if you were alright, then carry on... it was always about Saturday. You just dust yourself and do whatever you need to do for the next Saturday.

"[For me], it was the week after week where I was getting a few serious hits where the body just shut down and after a few weeks of fatigue and being unable to train that we started to ask a few questions."

Devine played 10 Tests for the All Blacks and made 70 appearances for the Blues before he was forced to hang up his boots in 2007 but he said he wouldn't have done anything different, even after going through what he has in his rugby retirement.

"I've been asked that a bit - would I have changed anything?

"I loved what I did back then and I was a competitor and I was pretty much doing anything possible that I could to get back on the field.

"So would I have changed it? I probably wouldn't have and that's why the steps New Zealand Rugby has brought in - how it's not up to the player anymore - I think that's been the big change in rugby.

"Having a doctor on the sideline assessing the players is a big step forward for rugby."

Devine said he has now gotten his issues under control thanks to medication and injections and has even become a firefighter.

He still gets along to the rugby field to watch his youngest son play club rugby in Auckland.

"He loves it and he goes pretty good," Devine said.

"He just has a great time with a mates, loves playing with his mates and he's at that age now where he's playing against a few of his mates which makes it even more fun."