Concussion forces former Highlanders flank into retirement

    2018-05-14 12:06

    Cape Town - Former Highlanders and Tasman captain and openside flank Shane Christie has been forced to retire due to ongoing concussion symptoms.

    Christie suffered the concussion back in 2016 and missed the 2017 Super Rugby and Mitre 10 Cup seasons and was subsequently not awarded a playing contract for this year.

    The 32-year-old officially retired after receiving a medical report last week.

    He says 2017 was a tough year as he tried to regain fitness but 2018 has started with excitement as he eyes a new career as a coach, albeit in familiar surrounds.

    Christie has been contracted by the Tasman Rugby Union to be the Mako head forward coach for the 2018 season after spending the previous Mitre 10 Cup campaign as a non-playing advisor.

    He is part of a four-man coaching set-up for Tasman, with Leon MacDonald as head coach, Andrew Goodman as backs coach and Clarke Dermody as set-piece coach.

    “I’m excited to have the opportunity and to be there with Leon who has been with the Mako for eight years and Andrew Goodman who I played with for a couple of seasons,” Christie told Tasman Makos’ official website.

    “It’s awesome to move onto another phase with someone I played with and are good mates with.”

    He says the goal for this season is to do something that eluded him as a player - win the Mitre 10 Cup premiership.

    “We’ve been in three finals and have lost them all but hopefully we’ve learnt from that,” added Christie.

    “I’m really excited about the team we have this year and what we can achieve.”

    Christie grew up in Canvastown, moving to Nelson as an apprentice builder and to play club rugby for the Nelson Rugby Club. It took him four years to earn a spot in the team and another season to cement himself as the region’s top openside flank.

    In 2013 he was made captain and that coincided with Tasman becoming one of the country’s top provincial sides, winning the Mitre 10 Cup championship. That same year he was picked up by the Crusaders but found more playing time with the Highlanders the following season.

    His performances there saw him become co-captain of the championship-winning Highlanders in 2015. He also played two games for the All Black Sevens in the 2010/11 season and was a regular with the Maori All Blacks. He says the highlights of his playing career include winning the Mitre 10 Cup Championship at Trafalgar Park and the Super rugby final in 2015.

    “It was amazing at Trafalgar Park,” said Christie.

    “Hawke’s Bay had the kick to win at the end and our supporters group were just giving it to him. I could hear them over my shoulder and he shanked it. Those 60 fans won that game for us. That was a real highlight.”

    Christie said he’s had great support from his family, colleagues at the Tasman Rugby Union, and Highlanders during the last year and looks forward to his coaching career beginning.

    “I’d like say a big thank you to all the players but especially the Mako and Highlander players,” he commented.

    “The wins and losses aside, playing and training with my mates has always been the most satisfying part of rugby.”

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