Richie kept Manu Samoa team mobile

Former Marlborough sportsman Richie Marsden is making his name in the world of sports physiotherapy.

The former Blenheim senior cricket and footballer, now living in Auckland, recently returned from Britain where he was physio for the Manu Samoa rugby team on their three-test tour.

Samoa recorded a 42-12 win over Canada, followed by a superb 26-19 triumph over Wales at Millennium Stadium and a narrow 14-22 loss to France, a match Richie said they could easily have won if they had kicked their goals.

The only physio with the team, it certainly wasn't a holiday. "It was a busy time with 32 boys from 32 different teams around the world," said Richie. "A lot of stuff is done late at night and then up early to do strapping on match day or contact training. You have about two hours each time to strap them and it gets done before the bus leaves for the ground. You are on call 24 hours a day."

Being at Millennium Stadium was a tour highlight, especially winning the match. "Amazing. It wasn't full but there were still around 60,000 there. The trainer and I stuck around after the match and booted a ball around the park until ground staff kicked us off."

Despite only coming together for the tour just over a week before it started and having players come from all over the world, Richie said the team gelled very quickly. "They are a close bunch. A big family once they get together. They are very passionate, very big men. I've never seen hits like it, standing on the sidelines during the matches. It was like watching a highlights reel.

"Our pack weight against France was 959kg, but they are pretty mobile and all pretty fit." (Brothers and props Census and James Johnston weighed in at 136kg and 144kg respectively.)

While elated to beat Wales, Richie said team members were very humble in victory and quite subdued in the dressing room afterwards.

"They knew the result took them into the top eight for the World Cup draw and that was very important. There was a lot of singing and dancing after the final match. They love their music."

Tasman halfback Jeremy Su'a and two former Makos, prop Zac Taulafo and halfback Kahn Fotuali'i, were in the team and Richie said all three played well. Taulafo is with Wasps in London and Fotuali'i with Ospreys.

The recent tour continued Richie's long involvement with high profile sports teams. He began with the Canterbury cricket team, then the New Zealand A team and the Black Caps. Following that he was physio for the Essex county cricket team in England.

Richie hopes to stay with Manu Samoa when they next tour because the firm he works for in Auckland is contracted to do the job. But, he's got a contract of a very different kind coming up in January when he gets married in Queenstown.

The Marlborough Express