Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Marshall gets rare chance before double hip surgery

James Marshall will be out of the game for six months. Photo / Getty Images
James Marshall will be out of the game for six months. Photo / Getty Images

Most rugby players carry niggling injuries during the season but James Marshall has struggled with the same complaint for the past four years.

The Hurricanes utility back has been hampered by a hip ailment that will see him finally go under the knife for "double hip surgery" at the end of the Super 15 and spend six months out of the game.

He will miss this year's ITM Cup where he is contracted with Taranaki and has next season's Super 15 in his sights for a return to the paddock.

"It's been an ongoing issue with me," Marshall, a former New Zealand sevens player, said of the hip problem. "I've had it for about three or four years. It's not so much while I'm playing, it's more afterwards and getting around on it. I guess it affects my game a little bit but nothing too major but I need to get it sorted.

"Once I get back in to the sheds [after a game] I'll be hobbling around a wee bit and my flexibility and range of motion's pretty limited."

As for how it happened, there isn't a lot the 24 year old can add. Marshall said he's always had tight hips but since taking a knock three or four years ago, the condition has got steadily worse.

With the security of another year to run on his Hurricanes contract, Marshall can afford to take half a year out of the game, knowing he won't have to go through another ITM Cup campaign auditioning for a Super 15 deal.

"The surgeon said if I didn't get it done I'd probably only have two or three years left in me."

Before Marshall can undergo his career-defining surgery he will get a rare opportunity to start for the Hurricanes tonight.

This season has been a frustrating one for the Nelson College old boy. He has only been in the run-on side once when he started at fullback against the Highlanders in week five.

Despite a win for the Hurricanes that March evening in Dunedin, Marshall was yanked in the 47th minute after a mixed performance and he didn't see a match-day 22 until round 13, when he was given a chance off the bench against the Cheetahs in South Africa.

A couple of cameos from the pine have followed since and a shoulder injury to Andre Taylor means Marshall will start in the No15 jersey against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

He will join a new-look back three that includes exciting rookie Matt Proctor and hard-running left wing Julian Savea.

The ninth-placed Hurricanes have a flicker of hope of making the playoffs but that flame will be extinguished with a loss tonight, which could send them further down the ladder depending on how other results fall.

On the other hand, the second-placed Chiefs are looking to lock up top spot on the Super 15 ladder, which would give them home ground advantage throughout the post-season.

"They're well coached, they're the benchmark at the moment," Marshall said. "They just do everything well, they do the little things well and they don't try too hard and they know what they've got to do and they do it."

Chiefs v Hurricanes

Waikato Stadium, 7.35 tonight

Chiefs: Robbie Robinson, Lelia Masaga, Tim Nanai-Williams, Bundee Aki, Aseali Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Matt Vant Leven, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Craig Clarke (c), Ben Afeaki, Hika Elliot, Pauliasi Manu
Reserves: Mahonri Schwalger, Michael Fitzgerald, Sam Cane, Augustine Pulu, Andrew Horrell, Charlie Ngatai.

Hurricanes: James Marshall, Matt Proctor, Conrad Smith (c), Reynold Lee-Lo, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Karl Lowe, Brad Shields, James Broadhurst, Jeremy Thrush, Ben May, Dane Coles, Ben Franks
Reserves: Ash Dixon, Reggie Goodes, Mark Reddish, Faifili Levave/Blade Thomson, Chris Smylie, Tusi Pisi, Alapati Leiua.

- APNZ

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