Hika Elliot considers future after spinal fusion
December 10, 2013
Hika Elliot enjoyed a productive season with Counties Manukau in 2013 © Getty Images
Former All Blacks hooker Hika Elliot will sit out the Chiefs' Super Rugby title defence in 2014 and may quit rugby altogether after undergoing surgery to correct a long-standing neck injury.
Elliot, 27, aggravated the injury while playing for the Maori All Blacks against Canada in Toronto, where a bulged disc resulted in his co-ordination deteriorating throughout the game to the point where he could barely walk when replaced.
"It was quite scary for myself, my brain would say something and my legs wouldn't go," Elliot said on LiveSport in New Zealand. "It got worse and worse. It got to the stage where my legs weren't working. They said I was lucky to actually be walking."
Elliot had his spine fused in an operation last week, and he will see a specialist prior to Christmas. He has regained the feeling in his hands and legs after the surgery, but he is realistic about the potential danger of playing again.
"Given my position and given the injury, it's something I need to take a hard look at," Elliot said. "We're talking about people's lives and being able to walk. I don't want to play Russian roulette with that sort of thing."
Dave Rennie remains hopeful, however, that Elliot might be available for the second half of the season. The Chiefs coach is aware that his hooking resources now are painfully thin with Mahonri Schwalger recovering from clean-up surgery on a knee injury that limited his appearances this year. Rhys Marshall is the only fit hooker in the squad able to undertake pre-season training, and another 21-year-old, Bay of Plenty rake Nathan Harris, has been drafted to fill the gap in the meantime.
Rennie said he was not yet allowed to replace Elliot officially, and he was as keen as the hooker to learn how the player had responded to the operation.
"So far the news is pretty positive, the surgeon's happy and now it's just a bit of time," Rennie said. "There's probably no doubt we will lose him for part of a season and I guess once the specialists have a look we will see whether it's going to be longer than that. The key thing is we want him to get right, he's got to be confident with what's happened but by all accounts the surgery went well."
Elliot, who played four Tests from 2008 to 2012, has represented the Hurricanes and Chiefs in Super Rugby since 2007, and played seven seasons for Hawke's Bay before switching this year to play in to Counties Manukau's Ranfurly Shield-winning ITM Cup campaign.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
David Moyes has come to the defence of the under-fire Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley, insisting he is a "fantastic" player who is certain to have a bright future
Fernando Alonso believes intelligent drivers will come out on top this year as the new engines change the way races pan out
Stuart Lancaster has said the time for talking is over and called on England to deliver a big performance when they face Wales on Sunday.
Manuel Pellegrini has shrugged off speculation linking Manchester City with a summer bid for Lionel Messi
Arsene Wenger says Jack Wilshere will be out for eight weeks and admitted the fractured foot he suffered in England's game against Denmark on Wednesday is a bitter blow
Only Chelsea and Liverpool can win the Premier League this season, despite Jose Mourinho's claims
Australian Rugby Union officials in recent times have "lacked authority" when negotiating with New Zealand and South Africa, and they need to show "more backbone" when pushing national causes, Greg Growden reports
Tottenham have not won a game at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea since 1990, but there revival under Tim Sherwood could see them upset the odds in this London derby
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year
Who has scored the most goals in European club competitions?
Cristiano Ronaldo has played down his latest record, claiming landmarks come naturally to him
Eden Hazard believes he can surpass Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to be the best player in the world - but knows he needs to be twice the player he is at the moment to achieve his goal
Samir Nasri insists Arsene Wenger is a "magician" and believes criticism of his former manager about his lack of trophies is unfair
Mesut Ozil continued to face criticism as he was jeered by a section of Germany fans during his nation's 1-0 friendly win over Chile in Stuttgart
David Moyes was in attendance for France's 2-0 friendly win against the Netherlands in Paris on Wednesday to scout Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba as he considers how to rebuild his Manchester United squad
Join Gareth Davies, Ben Blackmore and Chris Park each week for the latest news, views and debate from the UFC
Once prone to putting his head down and looking the other way when walking past fans on the street, Andy Murray is finding lots of reasons to look them in the eye
'I'm glad that Vasyl Lomachenko is a pro and I'm also glad that he lost on Saturday,' writes ESPN's resident boxing expert Steve Bunce
The waiting is finally over after it was announced that 82-year-old Nick Bollettieri will be enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame later this summer