Rugby: Freak mishap hands nomad a sorry start

WAYNE MARTIN
Last updated 13:05 10/04/2013
Marty Banks
MARION VAN DIJK/Fairfax NZ
FINGERS CROSSED: Marty Banks is hoping for a change of fortunes after suffering a serious hand injury just 15 minutes into training with his new club.

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Sometimes there's just no accounting for bad luck.

Marty Banks had only been in town for 75 minutes and had just begun his first training run with his new Waimea Old Boys rugby clubmates when the unimaginable happened.

According to Banks, he arrived in Nelson at 5pm last Tuesday and headed to training an hour later before fracturing his right hand just 15 minutes into his warmup. Initially embarrassed and frustrated, the former Canterbury Colts, Buller and Crusaders Knights fullback can now see the amusing side of the incident.

"I wish I had a better story," he joked.

"I was passing a ball and a guy, I don't know who it was, collided with my hand, or tried knocking the ball down or something, and bashed the end of my finger as I passed it."

What he originally suspected was a dislocated right ring finger was actually a spiral fracture near his wrist - bad enough to keep him out of action, probably until Waimea's first Bayley's Tasman Trophy match against Marlborough club Moutere on May 11.

"I haven't broken a bone since I was 11 or 12 when I fell off a pushbike," he said.

While not the ideal way to begin the latest chapter of his so far nomadic rugby existence, the 23-year-old rugby player was philosophical about his fate, although determined to eventually make an impact.

Originally from Reefton, Banks played for Buller in last season's Heartland championship, scoring a record 131 points for the province, including 16 in Buller's 31-28 win over South Canterbury in the Lochore Cup final in Westport.

He'd spent his year 13 college year in 2007 at Christchurch Boys' High School and played in their First XV, coincidentally the same season Nelson College won The Press Cup to end Christchurch BHS' six-year dominance.

In 2011 he headed to North Harbour's Takapuna club before linking up with the Krasny Yar club in Russia ahead of last season's Heartland experience with Buller.

That Buller team also included Nelson Bays club players Ben Coman, Trael Joass, Craig Moore and James Foster.

With Banks at something of a loose end following the 2012 representative season, Moore and Foster initially put pressure on him to join the Nelson club. But it was some light-hearted arm-twisting by Waimea lock Coman that eventually swayed him.

"[Coman] said, ‘if you play for Nelson, I'll never talk to you again and you won't be welcome in my house'," Banks joked.

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He played for this year's Crusaders Knights team and he's had discussions with Tasman's coaching hierarchy, although no promises have been made. He's been included in the Makos' extended preseason training squad but fully understands his place in the mix.

It's now up to him to try to turn some heads - when he finally gets back on the field.

Tasman coach Kieran Keane has given him a host of "work-ons" which Banks has taken on board.

"It was a fairly big page," Banks joked.

He said decision-making and defence were priorities and at 1.9 metres tall and around 87kg, Banks' relatively slight frame has often been the source of amusement for friends and team-mates.

"I cop a lot of stick about my size. I've got a couple of mates who call me A4 because you can see me front on but when I stand side on, you can't see me - like a piece of paper.

"I met with the [Tasman Academy] trainers and they've got four weeks to put some muscle on my little frame. [The injury] could be a blessing in disguise really, putting some weight on before I start playing."

Banks prefers fullback but often plays at No 10 and is a reliable goalkicker - all significant factors in assessing his chances of ITM Cup squad selection.

He said that coming to Nelson was "all about learning".

"I didn't come here thinking that I'm going to make it. I've come here with hopes of making the squad, even the final 28, and that anything can happen from there.

"There's probably about five or six other guys going for the same positions so there is competition and I've just got to come here and try and put my best foot forward."

And a change of luck might help.

- The Nelson Mail

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