NEW captain Gerrit-Jan van Velze accepts it is only “a matter of time” before he suffers another head injury as he continues to put his neck on the line for Worcester Warriors.

The fearless number eight overcame a year-long battle with concussion to re-establish himself as a mainstay in Warriors’ side last season.

Van Velze said he was “worried” ahead of his return to competitive action after 12 months on the sidelines.

But having racked up 1,814 minutes of rugby in the 2017-18 campaign the 30-year-old insisted he was now “at peace” with the possibility of sustaining a further blow to his head.

“It was tough at times,” van Velze said when reflecting on last term. "I think I was in a constant state of soreness for the first eight weeks because I wasn’t used to it.

“But since January and February going into that block of four very important games, which included Exeter and Gloucester, I felt like I hit a great strap.

“I had great momentum and enjoyed my rugby.”

Van Velze surpassed his expectations last season as he made 24 starts, 20 in the Premiership, but he conceded: “It is a matter of time before I get another concussion.

“It is the nature of the sport and how I play. I am at peace with that.

“Because of the nature of the game we will get injured, whether that’s concussion or a ligament injury.

“We play the game because we enjoy it and like to be competitive so it doesn’t worry me. (Injuries) are part of the sport.

“In my first game back I was worried because I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like.

“But the more you play the more you get into it so it is no longer in the back of your mind.

“I never run onto the pitch thinking that today might be the day (that I get concussion) or should I be tackling that guy or carrying this ball?

“That was never a problem for me.

“But when you are on the sidelines and you have got people questioning whether you will be able to play again and you are not educated about it then that’s when it’s quite tough.”

Two months into his comeback van Velze suffered an injury scare in Warriors’ 15-8 loss at Connacht in the European Challenge Cup.

“I got a knock on my chin,” said the South African. “I passed my head injury assessment but I didn’t feel like I was back to where I should be.

“Luckily that coincided with a week off so I went through my protocol and was back playing against Northampton.

“I am not at a stage where one concussion means it’s the end of my career.

“I have still got to stick to the protocols. I am comfortable with that because I still feel that’s safe and it’s the best way to treat it.”

Van Velze, who has succeeded Donncha O'Callaghan as skipper for the new season, stressed it was important to educate young players about concussion as he believes the issue is “not going to end anytime soon”.

“We are only getting quicker, stronger and bigger and the game is getting more physical so it is not going to go away,” he added.

“Since I have moved to England the way things have changed (towards concussion) has been for the better and it is only going to improve as people get more educated.”