Canterbury lock Symons shoulders heavy load

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 20/08/2014
Matt Symons
JOSEPH JOHNSON/Fairfax NZ
BACK IN CHRISTCHURCH: Lock Matt Symons played eight games for Canterbury last year before injury ended his season and prevented him appearing in the playoffs.

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The bleeping of Matt Symons' phone must have him wondering if this is the moment he should start contemplating his favourite hospital foods.

The lock has been carrying a bung shoulder since last year's National Provincial Championship and any day now he could receive a call advising it is time to have surgery to get the troublesome AC joint fixed.

Despite the uncertainty the big Englishman, who played for the Chiefs during the Super Rugby season, has hardly worked himself into a lather.

"We will listen to the medics really, they are the ones in the know," Symons shrugs. "I am just really keen to play and always have been. I just do what I am told."

Last week Canterbury coach Scott Robertson gave a good indication of the waiting game that is being played out, stating Symons was a late addition to the side that thrashed Auckland 48-9 at AMI Stadium because he thought he would be unavailable.

As it happened Symons left the bench in the second half and there was nothing to indicate that his shoulder, which is strapped before games, caused any issues with his mobility or ability to clatter into rucks or make tackles.

"Lots of the boys are carrying knocks and stuff, it is just the nature of the beast. We will just see how it goes. Everyone is in the loop, with Canterbury and the Chiefs working really well together."

It seems likely Symons will play against Waikato in Hamilton on Friday night if he doesn't get his call-up for surgery.

If Scott Barrett, who was named the players' player of the day following the Auckland match, and Joel Everson are once again the starting locks Symons will again be asked to provide impact from the bench.

Playing at Waikato Stadium would also give Symons the chance to meet with his English girlfriend Georgina, who has remained in Hamilton. She followed him across the globe when he transferred to Christchurch to play club rugby - he later captained the Crusaders development team and represented Canterbury - and then relocated to the North Island when he signed with the Chiefs.

"She was working for EQC in Christchurch and then moved up to Hamilton but then couldn't transfer back down," Symons explained.

While in Hamilton Symons flatted with Tasman wing James Lowe, who was also in his first season with the Chiefs. Symons currently lives with Canterbury No 8 Luke Whitelock.

Although Brodie Retallick and Mike Fitzgerald were coach Dave Rennie's favoured starters in the second row, Symons had no regrets about signing a two-year deal with the Chiefs and working under forwards coach Tom Coventry.

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Meanwhile, Robertson expects to know today how long Tom Taylor will be unavailable after suffering a 3mm crack in his right eye socket while making a tackle against Auckland. Taylor was to see a specialist last night. Rob Thompson is expected to replace Taylor at second five-eighth.

The team to face Waikato will be named today.

- The Press

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