Rugby: Buckman sidelined for Super season

By Shane Hurndell

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INJURED: Magpies' Highlander utility back Richard Buckman. PHOTO/FILE
INJURED: Magpies' Highlander utility back Richard Buckman. PHOTO/FILE

Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby team's utility back Richard Buckman's Super season is over before it began.

The Highlanders winger injured his shoulder while scoring a try in the first half of the Super champions 45-38 loss to Dan Carter's Racing Metro in Hong Kong last weekend. This was the Highlanders first pre-season outing.

Magpies head coach Craig Philpott was in Dunedin on Thursday in his role as New Zealand under-20 team assistant coach checking on candidates for Baby Blacks selection. While there he got an update on Buckman.

"Bucky will require surgery similar to what Izzy [Dagg] had. The worst-case scenario is he will be out for six months which means he may be available for most of the Mitre 10 Cup. If he is we would love to have him around," Philpott said.

Highlanders head coach Jamie Joseph said Buckman was a tough player and would not have left the field if it was not serious. Buckman, 26, played most of his games for the Highlanders at second five-eighth last year and Joseph said there were several candidates to replace him including Canterbury's Rob Thompson, Otago's Tei Walden, Manawatu's Jason Emery and All Black Malakai Fekitoa.

"It is obviously pretty disappointing, I was looking forward to another big season trying to defend that title," Buckman told media this week.

"But it is just one of those things you can't do too much about now and look forward to the future and see the positives and get all my injuries right," he said on Thursday.

"I went and saw the surgeon last night and he gave me the news which was pretty tough. It was a tough sleep last night," Buckman said.

The former Hurricane who made his Magpies debut in 2008 has had more than his fair share of injuries including a knee injury which forced him out of the Magpies ITM Cup Championship final against Wellington. One of the reasons he attracts injuries is the high physicality levels he brings to each game he plays.

The 2015 New Zealand Barbarians rep has developed a cult following in the deep south and boasts the nickname Barracuda. This is a result of the song Highlanders teammate Joe Wheeler created in his honour.

Wheeler and his teammates belted out the song at last weekend's aftermatch function in Hong Kong as a tribute to Buckman and it, like the original version, was an internet hit. Should Buckman's return to the Magpies squad be slower than hoped it will be an opportunity for All Black Sevens squad training member Billy Ropiha to get more first class game time in the midfield.

Having spent time training under Sir Gordon Tietjens already this summer Ropiha will have the necessary fitness levels to cope with that level of promotion. Considering the high number of injuries Tietjens outfit has experienced on their current World Series campaign Ropiha could get a tournament or two under his belt before the Mitre 10 Cup season starts too.

Philpott and assistant Danny Lee may also have the luxury of starting experienced Super players Andrew Horrell and Robbie Fruean in the midfield.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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