Schwalger leaving one family for another

EVAN PEGDEN
Last updated 05:00 14/07/2014
Mahonri Schwalger, left, helps Chiefs team-mate Brodie Retallick stop big Blues prop Charlie Faumuina
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BIG HIT: Mahonri Schwalger, left, helps Chiefs team-mate Brodie Retallick stop big Blues prop Charlie Faumuina in his tracks at Eden Park last Friday night.

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Mahonri Schwalger says at the end of this Super Rugby season it will be time to put his family first back in Samoa.

But if there were ever any doubts about his current priorities and his commitment to the Chiefs' cause until then, his effort in playing most of last Friday night's crucial victory over the Blues with a dislocated shoulder certainly dispelled them.

Schwalger, who turns 36 in September, has been a true warrior in his three seasons at hooker for the Chiefs, having to overcome several serious injuries and surgeries to both his knee and eye in order to provide the veteran experience the tight five needed.

But when he dislocated his shoulder making a big tackle early in Friday's match, having to put it back in place himself was a first for him. He played on until about 15 minutes from the end of the match when the Chiefs had established an eight-point lead.

"I was just trying to hit one of the big boys and the shoulder just sort of popped out," said the quietly spoken man they call Mo.

"I put it back in myself. I've never done that before but it is the sort of thing you do for this group.

"This group has been a big part of my career for the last three years and I want to finish on a high and make sure I give it all for these guys," Schwalger said.

Considering there were over 20 scrums in the rain-lashed match at Eden Park, endless forward skirmishes away from the set-pieces and many tackles to be made it is a remarkable achievement for Schwalger to have played on as long as he did with such a painful shoulder.

And don't count the former Samoa captain out of the Chiefs' Saturday night qualifier against the Brumbies in Canberra if the ligament damage turns out not to be too serious. He is determined to finish the season off in style with his team-mates and coach Dave Rennie is hopeful he will be good to go.

"I'll be good. I'll have a kava tonight and relax and hopefully the body will be fine," Schwalger said.

"I was just trying to guts it out until we got ahead by a few points and build that sort of confidence among the boys so I could come off and rest up."

What does the Chiefs team mean to Schwalger?

"It means a lot. It's been a big part of my life in the last three years, we've won two championships, the coaches have built a great environment and mainly it's my family.

"Some of the boys are leaving and I'm going to miss them, but after being a professional rugby player for a few years and I'm going to sit back at the end of it and have good memories for the rest of my life.

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"It's all about leaving your legacy and that's the whole point of it. Leaving my legacy is something I can look back on and talk about to my kids," he said.

Schwalger confirmed he was leaving the Chiefs once the season was over and heading back to Samoa for some overdue family time.

"My family's been away from me for the last three years now so I'm going back to the islands to spend time with my family and especially my little girl.

"She's turning 14, she'll be out of college soon and I haven't spent a lot of time with her so I think it's time for me to put the family first.

"At the moment I've got the job to do for the Chiefs and hopefully we'll finish on a good note."

But it is not necessarily the end of rugby for Schwalger, who said he could still end up playing somewhere in the world after taking a couple of months to spend with his family.

"It could be anywhere in the world or it might be back home playing at grassroots and trying to help out the development of rugby in the islands. At this stage I haven't even thought too far ahead of myself."

- Waikato Times

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