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USA prop Shawn Pittman is set to return to the field of play soon after a long road back from a concussion, and the prop is set to go on a ten-day trial to French club Beziers.
Pittman was taken off the field in the middle of the USA v. Maori All Blacks game in November, and has not played a game since. He was suspected of having a concussion at the time, seemed to be symptom-free, but two days before the Eagles played Georgia he was pulled out of the starting lineup due to persistent headaches.
Pittman continued to suffer headaches, but was able to rehab in Seattle with the Serevi company.
"It's been really tough," Pittman told RUGBYMag.com. "I'm still trying to get back to 100%. I've been lucky enough to be working for Serevi and have their gym available to me at all times. But I have had to start out slow and slowly build into it."
Pittman said he had headaches for close to four months, and for three months was advised by doctors to avoid almost any physical activity more strenuous than walking.
"Over time the headaches and symptoms got better and I was cleared to start jogging and then weightlifting. Finally I was allowed to be fully active, which I was very excited about."
That meant he could participate in rugby drills, although he hasn't been cleared for full contact yet.
During all of this time, he lost 15 pounds, a frustration for the prop who had been trying to get bigger, not smaller.
Pittman will leave for France on Saturday for a ten-day trial with Beziers, a club in France's Pro D2, and where capped Eagle Seta Tuilevuka plays. This will be a non-contact trial, although Pittman has been cleared to scrum.
For Pittman, the journey to get back to playing condition has been difficult, but was made easier by his support from Serevi and in Seattle - not only in his training but also working for the company.
Pittman has been working at various projects, including traveling around the Seattle area introducing young kids to rugby.
"They have really helped me out a lot," said Pittman. "Justin Fitzpatrick and Josh young were the ones that really pushed for me to be in the office. They have really given me such a great opportunity to spread the game that I enjoy so much around Washington."