Jake Wakeling in Wairarapa Hospital. PHOTO/STEVE RENDLE

Wakeling weighing prospects of playing rugby again

STEVE RENDLE
steve.rendle@age.co.nz

Jack Wakeling’s debut for Wairarapa-Bush against the NZ Army side was going like a dream – a try and a strong performance at first-five and the team enjoying a healthy lead midway through the second half on Tuesday night.

And then came disaster in the warm-up match for the Heartland Championship.

On the burst, with ball in hand, the first-five was tackled from the side – legally – and his right leg was broken in two places.

Now the 23-year-old is pondering when, and if, he will return to the game.

Speaking from Wairarapa Hospital, the East Coast club representative described the shock of the injury.

“It was pretty scary. I was 15-20 minutes on the ground [before being stretchered from the field].

“I knew I had snapped something. They thought it might have been a dislocated knee.”

In reality, it was a break of the tibia and fibula.

“It puts you off a little bit. It happened so quickly,” Wakeling said.

“It’s just the pain was excruciating, I haven’t felt anything like it.

“I wouldn’t be rushing to get back to playing.”

The game had been going well for Wakeling, who had scored a try in the first half before the injury at around the 60-minute mark.

“Everything was all good for a first game,” he said.

“We had a pretty good lead … and I had a bit of a half break and was just looking straight ahead as I pushed off my right foot.

“Then I felt a body connecting and heard a snap.”

He faces three months on crutches with rod inserted from his knee to his ankle.

It will remain in place for at least 12 months.

It was hoped the bones would heal well, given his age, and a reasonably straightforward recovery was expected.

“It was a clean break of the tibia and fibula … not too close to the knee or the ankle,” Wakeling said.

“That should allow the rod to come out earlier rather than later.”

Also a talented cricketer, Wakeling was philosophical about the forced break from sport.

“I can’t do much about it,” he said.

He has just completed an Ag Commerce degree at Lincoln, aiming for a career in rural banking or a rep.

Wairarapa-Bush completed a comprehensive 53-10 win over the Army side, with coach Joe Harwood singling out Wakeling for special praise before his game was interrupted.

Harwood described the debut, until the injury, as one of the best he had seen.