Riki Flutey's NPC season comes to painful end
Riki Flutey's injury looks as painful as it sounds.
Wellington's veteran first five-eighth was prone in a Christchurch Hospital last night with a proximal hamstring tendon rupture as his Lions team-mates assembled for their season launch in Wellington.
In the cruelest of a horrendous run of Lions injuries, Flutey is waiting for the pain and swelling in his right leg to subside enough for him to be allowed to fly home to Wellington for scans.
He's praying for a decent prognosis when he meets his Wellington-based surgeon tomorrow, but his National Provincial Championship comeback season is over before it began.
Flutey was typically upbeat via text message, but the photo of his leg posted on Twitter said as much as any words.
It showed the full extent of the bruising suffered when his hamstring was torn off the bone during Wellington's pre-season match against Canterbury in Christchurch on Saturday.
Lions coach Chris Boyd's heart went out to a player, who at 34 was to be a pivotal part of his provincial plans in coming months.
"Apparently there are three attachments from the hamstring to the bone and he's torn all three," Boyd said.
Flutey's team-mates were struggling to watch the video of the moment they lost the hugely respected former British and Irish Lion during their 26-24 win.
"He went to return a kick and ran into two or three players," Boyd said. "They were rag-dolling him backwards a bit and he ended up turning his back on them a little and he basically ended up doing the splits. His torso got folded and his nose ended up on the ground between his legs and that was it."
In a canny piece of timing, Boyd picked up the phone and called former Samoan international Fa'atonu Fili a day before the screening of the television movie The Kick, the story of unlikely All Blacks World Cup hero Stephen Donald.
Boyd lost his first choice No 10 when Lima Sopoaga transferred to Southland, then last year's pivot Tim Bateman when he was forced to move to Japan for personal reasons.
When Flutey fell in a heap he picked up the phone and called Fili.
"Mate, I feel like I'm on The Kick," Fili said yesterday after being named in the official Lions squad. "I wasn't [whitebaiting], but I was going to play for Poverty Bay with Rico [Gear].
"We played together in Japan and he called up and said come and have a game. I was going to play for the Wellington Samoans this weekend, then head off to Gisborne."
Instead, the Marist St Pat's playmaker is set to add to his 35 provincial caps, the last of which he received in 2011.
Since then Fili's travels have included an off-season playing in Sri Lanka before he returned to mesmerise defenders in Wellington club rugby this year.
Boyd had every confidence his back up No 10 would step up to the mark and noted there were several other options in and around the squad including youngsters Chase Tiatia and Jackson Garden Bachop, while another Samoan test player James So'oialo could also be an option.
The Dominion Post