Stags' Jason Rutledge coy on 'rugby goggles'

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2014
Jason Rutledge
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
SEEING MERIT: Southland Stags hooker Jason Rutledge.

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Stags hooker Jason Rutledge can see the merit of a new IRB "rugby goggles" trial, but he probably won't be putting his hand up to be a guinea pig.

The IRB had announced plans for a global trial of the goggles, which resemble ski goggles that can be inserted with prescription lenses.

The goggles have been designed for players requiring corrective lenses, as well as those who suffer from chronic eye conditions, including monocular vision, restricted vision in one or both eyes and people with eye conditions that put them at a greater risk of eye-damage than the general population. While the goggles are not designed to provide extra protection, they can be worn for that purpose.

Rutledge was first diagnosed with poor eyesight when he began struggling with his schoolwork at primary school.

The Southland centurion has used contact lenses for most of his rugby career, but has long been frustrated at having to regularly stop during a game to replace or move them.

"Mine seem to fall out a lot more regularly than anyone else. I can't see myself being a trendsetter and being one of the first ones in New Zealand to wear one, but if people started wearing them and they seemed all right I could definitely see some benefit in them."

As well as improving vision, Rutledge said the goggles could help prevent the stray fingers and cuts that players often got around their eyes, although he was unsure how other players could be prevented from pulling them off in rucks, something which had put him off wearing head gear.

Rutledge is on the comeback trail after surgery on a torn pectoral muscle which meant he missed Southland's entire 2013 season.

Strength testing this week had shown that he still had some work to do in terms of power and movement, but his progress has been pleasing.

The Stags will do fitness testing under the eye of new coach Brad Mooar next week.

Rutledge, who has played a record 131 games for Southland, said his hunger to play was as strong as ever.

"I'm real keen to play for the Stags. It will be interesting with a new coach. Hopefully I can play some good club footy and get picked on merit."

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