Drama dominated proceedings at Waitemata Park on and off the field during a rugby clash between Waitemata and Suburbs.
One player lay seriously injured on the pitch while a spectator collapsed in the stands.
The double whammy occurred in the 65th minute of the game on Saturday when Waitemata fullback Dusan Hakaraia was knocked unconscious while trying to tackle Suburbs' Lolagi Visinia.
"I tried to tackle Lolagi when he changed direction on me. I turned my body in the wrong position and his knee hit my temple," Mr Hakaraia says.
The fullback was knocked to the ground, suffering neck and spinal injuries.
He began convulsing as a seizure set in and then stopped breathing.
Club physiotherapist Daniel Harvey stepped in and forced a tube down his throat with help from Mr Hakaraia's brother, Wiwini.
He was able to open his airways and keep him monitored until the ambulance arrived.
"We had the collar on him to protect his neck. Then he had a seizure and was turning blue, then purple, then grey," Mr Harvey says.
"We had to make the decision to use the tube as it was a very delicate situation. It was the first time in my 10 years of physio I've had to use the oropharyngeal airway tube."
Waitemata assistant coach Kevin Schischka praises Mr Harvey's efforts.
"If not for Daniel's actions, Dusan probably wouldn't be alive. He's a hero."
Mr Hakaraia gained consciousness by the time the ambulance arrived five minutes later and became agitated as the paramedics were trying to help him into the ambulance,
"That's natural for severe head knocks," Mr Harvey says.
"The frontal lobe of the brain kicks in and it creates somewhat of a drunken effect on the victim."
Mr Hakaraia dodged any major injuries and walked out of Auckland Hospital on Sunday with a concussion but he's set to miss at least three weeks of rugby.
"I'm obviously disappointed but it was just one of those freak accidents," he says.
"I've been told time and time again Wiwini and Daniel saved my life. It's awesome what they've done."
The crowd was handed even more drama when Leo Grbic collapsed in the crowd during Mr Hakaraia's ordeal.
Mr Grbic had been having lunch with the Old Boys in the clubrooms before the match.
The Waitemata life member was in front of the grandstand watching the match when, not long after the ambulance arrived for Hakaraia's injury, he had his own complications.
"We were watching the ambulance guys looking after Dusan. I got a bit cold and started to shiver and sweat, then I just sort of collapsed I think," Mr Grbic recalls.
"I'm not sure what it was but the medics came over to check me out and called another ambulance for me."
Mr Grbic was released from Waitakere Hospital on Monday with doctors unsure of the cause of his problem.
"It wasn't a heart attack and my heart and blood pressure's good," he says.
Both Mr Hakaraia and Mr Grbic are recovering well.
The game was moved to the second playing field and Waitemata eventually won 26-12.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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