Hika Elliot is set to miss most of the Chiefs' Super Rugby season and is lucky to still be walking after needing surgery on a shocking neck injury.
Speaking to Live Sport in a radio interview this morning, Elliot said retirement from the game had entered his mind after having his hip bone used to fuse his neck together following a bulged disc injury which had got progressively worse over recent years.
The injury came to a head when the 27-year-old hooker was playing for the Maori All Blacks against Canada in Toronto last month.
''It's something that they reckon I've been playing with for a couple of years now,'' Elliot said.
''Against Canada a few weeks back it just got progressively worse during the game. And then by the time I went to come off I actually couldn't walk properly. It was quite scary for myself, especially when you're dealing with your neck, it's something you need to take care of.
''I could feel, slowly, my body giving way. My brain would say something and my legs wouldn't go. And by the time I had actually come off the boys thought I had been concussed because I was a bit wobbly on my feet and couldn't walk properly.
"It was just something that got worse and worse and by the time it got to the stage where my legs weren't working I thought 'Hey, something's going wrong here'.''
Elliot, who has played for the Chiefs for the past five seasons, thought the injury was just general wear and tear from the position that he plays and never thought it was anything too serious.
But when he started losing feeling in his hands he knew something wasn't right.
After returning home from the Maori All Blacks tour following the match against Canada, Elliot had surgery last week and is recovering at his Hawke's Bay home.
It was decided to fuse the disc with the hip bone rather than remove the disc, as that left a chance of the injury occurring again as well as the spinal cord being severed.
He will see a specialist in a couple of weeks time and will know more then.
''I've already made a decision that I'm looking at sitting out most of Super Rugby if not all of Super Rugby this year, and maybe ITM Cup, because I've got to weigh my options in terms of my career.
"And it's been pretty scary the last couple of weeks. We'll cross that bridge when it needs to be crossed, but I think for me at the moment it's just about getting right and doing the re-hab side of things.
''I just feel that I'm incredibly lucky to still be walking.
''The last week's been awesome, actually. But prior to surgery it was a bit of a struggle to walk and to try and do day-to-day kind of things.''
He said retirement was still something he had to think about.
''At the end of the day we're talking about people's lives and being able to walk. I don't really want to play Russian roulette with that side of things.
''Given my position and given the injury, it's something I need to take a hard look at.''
Elliot said the Chiefs coaching staff had all been in touch with him and he was receiving great support.
''To be honest it's been a little bit emotional the last couple of weeks, but with the support around me, it's been really good.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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