Anna is a reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Video of Bay of Plenty man fulfilling dream goes viral

Daniel Cox, (front), who has austism and a rare genetic disorder, had his dream come true when he got to play for the BOP Samoan team.
Daniel Cox, (front), who has austism and a rare genetic disorder, had his dream come true when he got to play for the BOP Samoan team.

Footage of an autistic Bay man fulfilling his life-long dream of scoring a try in a rugby match has gone viral - attracting more than 236,000 views.

Rugby fanatic Daniel Cox's dream was fulfilled earlier this month when he called off the bench to play the last seven minutes of a match between Bay of Plenty Samoa and Waikato Samoa.

Mr Cox, also known as DC, is autistic and was born with Prader Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic disease which caused obsessive eating, learning difficulties, and weak muscle tone.

Bay of Plenty Samoa manager Ati Aaifou-Olive met Mr Cox, a 25-year-old photography student, through Tauranga Sport Club. He started taking him to team trainings after becoming aware of his passion for the game.

Mr Cox got his chance to take the field on September 10,

Mr Cox played second five, scoring a try for the team and kicking a successful conversion.

The try and conversion helped secure his side's 40-37 win.

Mr Aaifou-Olive filmed Mr Cox playing and put the footage on his Facebook page on Monday afternoon.

He wrote: Meet my mate Daniel Cox 24-years-old with autism. He is passionate about rugby but doesn't get many opportunities to play the game he loves...

"I don't really put a lot on Facebook, but thought that was pretty special," Mr Aaifou-Olive said.

As at 4pm yesterday it had over 236,000 views.

"It was pretty amazing, I guess it's the impact of DC really."

Mr Cox said playing in the match was "a real buzz" .

"I think I should have gotten a starting role."

He said the team was like a "second family", and was now waiting to for a call up from All Black coach Steve Hansen.

Head coach Tumanu Martin said the attention the team and Mr Cox had got was "surreal".

"I didn't think anything of it really, it's more, someone who is always there to train so we just put him on."

Assistant coach Mefiposeta Taele said Mr Cox "got stuck in and smashed a few boys" during his time on the field.

Mr Cox's mother Andrea Sinden said the try was the fulfilment of a life-long goal for her son.

His love for the sport started after he played his first game of rugby when he was 5 and almost scored a try.

"For the rest of his life he's been talking about, 'I just want to get on the field and I want to play rugby and I want to get a try'."

Mr Cox had been played for various clubs in the area for the past five years but up until September 10, had never scored a try.

"What it's done for his self-esteem . . . Making him feel like a part of the boys, a part of the team and he loves getting dressed up in his strips and being a team player," Ms Sinden said.

Video

Bay of Plenty Samoa

The Bay of Plenty Samoan rugby team was established last year, as an official representative team for the region.

"It gives an opportunity for Samoan kids to play rep rugby also, DC as well," Mr Aaifou-Olive said.

Mr Taele said the team was about giving back to the community.

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