Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Spot with the Blues beckons after injury

Tusi Eti was lucky to survive a traumatic brain injury. Photo / Doug Sherring
Tusi Eti was lucky to survive a traumatic brain injury. Photo / Doug Sherring

A talented young rugby player almost killed by a sudden brain bleed has not only survived but bounced back to trial for the Blues.

Tusi Eti was just 14 when he collapsed minutes after playing for his school side. He was rushed to Starship Hospital for surgery.

Twenty months on, the teen has not only pulled on his favourite No.7 jersey again - the promising openside flanker has landed a scholarship with the Blues.

Tusi received a couple of head knocks while playing for Avondale College in an under-16 home match at West Auckland in July 2012.

"When I was getting changed after the game it suddenly felt like I had been stabbed in the head," he said. "The pain was incredible and I just passed out."

Neurosurgeons temporarily removed a large chunk on the left side of the youngster's skull.

"When I woke up I had no idea what had happened," Tusi explained. "I couldn't move anything on my right hand side and I had 48 stitches in my head.

"The first thing I thought about was how I was going to get through my school exams and how I could get back playing rugby."

Surgeons told Tusi's distraught father Faamai Toni Eti it was touch and go whether his boy would live.

"I knew he would be okay afterwards when a doctor asked him what was going on in the world, and Tusi replied 'the Olympics'," he said.

The bright student, from Massey, wants to become a rugby professional.

"Tusi had been on our radar before the surgery and we are thrilled he has recovered and back playing so well," Shane King, schools' convenor for the Blues, said.

Avondale College rugby coach Mike Perez said it was nerve-wracking when Tusi, a school prefect, played his first competitive match just six months after the scare.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 29 Dec 2014 14:15:58 Processing Time: 492ms