'I feel kinda lucky talking to you today'

HEART-STOPPING MOMENT:  Hoani Macdonald ‘flatlined’ during an NPC match last year.
HEART-STOPPING MOMENT: Hoani Macdonald ‘flatlined’ during an NPC match last year.

The Southland rugby player who almost died during an NPC match last year will head to the Hertz Sevens rugby tournament in the most comfortable costume of all.

Hoani Macdonald, dubbed "Lazarus" after his heart stopped at Pukekohe Stadium last October, is in Wellington this weekend where he is coaching an Invercargill team in a national marist rugby tournament.

He will also attend the international sevens - dressed as himself.

Macdonald famously "flatlined" on live television during an NPC match for the Southland Stags against Counties Manukau at Pukekohe Stadium.

"I feel kinda lucky talking to you today," he said yesterday. "It's great to be back in Wellington this weekend."

Macdonald has been under medical scrutiny since the onfield heart attack, but will re-enter the workforce in a fulltime marketing and coaching role for Rugby Southland on Monday.

"I am feeling really good," he said. "The doctors have told me to go live life as normal. They've said don't let anything change."

Since the incident, a cardioverter-defibrillator had been implanted by surgeons in his chest.

"If it happens again that will kick in."

He is still not allowed to drive and there is "no way" he will play rugby again. "I can't drive for another three months. That's pretty good at the moment because the weather down in Southland is unbelievably hot.

"The bike is getting a good workout. I'm out of contact sports but they've told me I can still play basketball. I think you'll see me on the golf course as well."

NZ Marist Sevens tournament organiser Tony Meachen said it was "great to see Lazarus make his way back to the playing fields of Wellington this weekend".

Twenty Marist teams have gathered in Wellington to compete in a nationwide Marist sevens tournament, which runs alongside the international event.

The Dominion Post