IT is a homecoming for Waratahs rugby team doctor Sharron Flahive.
Flahive, who has been the team doctor for the Waratahs for 20 years, grew up in Invercargill, and went to Southland Girls’ High School, the school beside Rugby Park, where the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Waratahs will be played tomorrow night.
The qualified doctor has been ever-present for the Waratahs since the 1999 season and was still busy running on to the field whenever a player went down.
A daughter of former Invercargill pharmacist Noel Flahive, she was born and bred in Invercargill, before attending Otago Medical School in Dunedin.
She then left to follow the path of so many New Zealanders and Australians – going to London. While there she got a diploma in sports medicine and returned to New Zealand where she helped out assisting the New Zealand women’s rugby team and also various club rugby sides and league sides in Wellington.
When she moved to Sydney, she joined as the doctor with the Gordon club side and also New South Wales under-21.
In 1999 she became the Waratahs team doctor and has been there ever since.
It was an all-encompassing role but one she really enjoyed.
“When I first started, Chris Whitaker was a player, the halfback, and now he is a coach,” she said.
“When the competition first started, some teams did not have doctors attached, but when the Crusaders were in Sydney I helped out and Daryl Gibson was a player for them. Now he is the coach,” she said.
She joked that at the start of her role she was like the sister to the players, but now was their mother.
She said it was a great job and the environment was a great one to be in.
People were trying to be the best they could be and were highly dedicated and worked hard. The players may have changed in name but they were still basically the same. The only major change was the players had got bigger, she said.
Being a female was not a hindrance at all and had never been an issue. If anything it helped as the players may open up a little bit more.
She enjoyed being part of a team which was a real difference from being a doctor in other roles, she said.
Flahive said growing up she had always wanted to be a doctor from a young age but was never a fantastic sportswoman.
“I was more of a skier. Went away on a few trips. I have done a lot of other sports too as a doctor with martial arts and rugby league. But coming from New Zealand I think where rugby is the main sport is what drew me to it.” She also runs her own sports medicine business where she treats everything from weekend warriors to professional athletes and said it was a good distraction from the Waratahs.
Married to Mike Dawson, a former Southland Boys’ High School pupil, they have a daughter Holly (18), who was in her last year at school.
Her parents now live in Arrowtown and she tries to get home as often as she can.
She was looking forward to returning to Invercargill but hoped for better weather than the last time the Waratahs played there.
“It was back in 2010 and it was in the driving rain. They went and put us out on the other side of the field in the driving rain. That wasn’t much fun.”