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Moomoo Falaniko kicked six from seven with a fractured ankle. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

70 minutes on a fractured ankle

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“It was extraordinary, I was astounded, I couldn’t believe it.”

That was the reaction from Greytown coach Mark Childs when he learnt that winger and goalkicker Moomoo Falaniko had played 70 minutes of Saturday’s Wairarapa-Bush premier club rugby final with a fractured right ankle.

“He said to us that he had been really sore during the game, but he didn’t tell anyone because he wanted to stay on,” Childs said.

“Straight after the game, he started limping and we were like, you obviously hurt your leg in that collision and he went ‘oh yea, very sore, coach, very sore’.”

Falaniko said the injury happened about 10 minutes into the Chris ‘Moose’ Kapene Memorial Cup final at Trust House Memorial Park when he accidentally kicked a Carterton player’s leg instead of the ball.

But in an act of courage that will etch his name in sports folklore, the talented Samoan brushed aside the pain and continued playing.

“I didn’t want to go off because I wanted to keep playing and playing for my team and get the game won,” the courageous Falaniko said.

“I was in a lot of pain when kicking goals, but I was trying my best to ignore it because I just wanted to play.”

Remarkably Falaniko was almost perfect kicking with his injured ankle, landing three penalties and converting all three tries, with the only miss, a 53m attempt that fell just short.

“It was extraordinary courage from Moo and his teammates were blown away, and they are just in awe of him really,” Childs said.

“A lot of ball didn’t go his way, but he had an error-free game, and he kicked all the goals that needed kicking. He got all the conversions, which made a difference, and he made a nice run up the sideline in the second half.”

Although Falaniko was sore at the end of Saturday’s final, it wasn’t until Monday when he woke up with a badly swollen ankle that he went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a fractured ankle.

Childs said Falaniko’s brave performance came after a man-of-the-match effort the previous weekend in the semifinal victory over East Coast, played in atrocious conditions in Greytown.

“He got a lot of ball kicked to him and he caught every one, and he got all the grubbers that were put through and he played outstanding.”

That good form had resulted in Falaniko’s selection in the Farriers Wairarapa-Bush Heartland squad, but the injury means he will now miss at least the first six weeks of the progamme, which starts on Saturday with a preseason game against Poverty Bay.

Although disappointed to be sidelined for the start of the campaign, Falaniko is determined to regain full fitness for the latter part of the Heartland Championship.

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