THERE was a point last year when Wade McRae wondered if he would ever return to the rugby field.
The 2016 Stags squad member had suffered concussions playing rugby and struggled to shake the symptoms which came with that.
Last year the 23 year old opted to take an indefinite break from playing rugby.
“There were times when I wasn’t sure [if I would play again], but I did take a pretty cautious approach with it,” he said.
Unlike a knee or a thumb injury, it is hard to put a timeframe on recovery when it comes to head knocks.
“You have to be quite self-aware of your symptoms, because it is not like [a broken bone] where other people can see what is going on.”
Bit by bit McRae’s troubles faded as that cautious approach proved beneficial.
The Pirates-Old Boys flanker has returned to the field this season and through the first six games has emerged as one of the best performers in Southland’s premier club competition.
“I’m fine, it is just about monitoring any symptoms there might be.”
McRae changed tact a little on the sporting front before this year’s rugby season when he opted to take on the gruelling Coast to Coast multisport event with some mates.
He took part in the individual two-day race, completing it in 13,5 hours.
It pointed McRae in the right direction as he eyed a return to the rugby field.
“It helped with my fitness levels. I’ve just probably got to get my strength back up now.”
McRae progressed through Southland’s age-group ranks and after he left Menzies College in Wyndham he headed to Lincoln University to study.
In 2015 he was named the Christchurch club player of the year after he helped Lincoln take the club title.
The next year he returned to Southland and signed with the Stags. He made his provincial debut during the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup.
McRae would love to get the opportunity to add to his Stags’ caps this year.
“You always want to play at that level, but first things first – I’m just focused on the club season and Pirates-Old Boys. Whatever happens after that happens.”
Pirates-Old Boys won just one game last year, but has impressed through the first six games of 2018 despite notching up just two wins.
The even nature of the competition means Pirates-Old Boys sit just three points off second-placed Woodlands, who they play on Saturday.
“We seem to be building quite well and improving each week, which is good,” McRae said.