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Tuesday October 17, 2006 Rugby Union :: Brumbies Rugby

Tawake undergoes surgery to remove finger

ACT Brumbies Brumbies No.8 Jone Tawake has undergone surgery to remove the ring finger on his right hand.

The action was taken after the Fijian backrower suffered a recurring dislocation in his finger after initially sustaining the injury against the Blues in Auckland in March.

Tawake originally underwent surgery to hold the finger into place and repair the damaged joint. However, during this time he developed an infection and, despite undergoing treatment, the infection began to destroy the joint.

The amputation was performed in Canberra last Tuesday (October 10) and has removed Tawake’s finger from the middle knuckle.

Tawake says the decision was made after lengthy consultation with medical staff, his family and Brumbies management.

“It was a big decision,” he said. “I thought about my rugby future, especially with my history of injuries, and I couldn’t afford to have any more time off. With the World Cup next year, I wanted to give myself every chance [of being there] and to do that I needed a good pre-season.

“I spoke to the surgeon and [Brumbies physiotherapist] Ed [Hollis] and Waz [Brumbies team doctor Warren McDonald] and they all told me to go away and think about it. But they said that whatever I chose they would support me 100 per cent.

“It [the finger] was very painful and it was very frustrating because it wasn’t getting better.

“Since it’s been cut off I just feel relieved. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ve made the right decision.”

The 24-year-old has since taken inspiration from AFL and West Coast Eagles star Daniel Chick who had the ring finger on his left hand amputated after suffering a recurrent dislocation in 2002. Chick went on to complete every match for Hawthorn that season and was one of the best for the Eagles in their premiership win in September.

“I didn’t really know about him [Chick] at the time,” he said. “I was more focused on my own circumstances and my own future.

“But it’s positive that Daniel Chick’s shown that you can get on with your football career after going through something like this. If he can do it, then I know that I can do it too.”

McDonald said that amputation proved to be the most effective alternative.

“One option was to clean out the infection and allow the joint to fuse itself,” he said. “However, this would’ve left him with a stiff joint. Another option was to fuse the joint together with wire, but again, there was no guarantee that this would solve the problem.

“The finger was very painful for Jone and he enquired, and later requested, to take it off.

“We [the surgeon and I] talked it through with him very thoroughly and it wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly. We were disappointed that it had to come to this, but in the end it was a practical decision.

“While he will be left with a minor deformity, it will allow for an accelerated recovery and a quicker return to the elite level. If everything goes as expected, we don’t foresee any further complications.”

Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher says he hopes the surgery will allow Tawake to return to a trouble-free lifestyle.

“He was in considerable discomfort and pain and it was a big decision for him to make,” he said. “But I think that in terms of balancing football and a pain-free existence, he’s come to a sound decision.

“Jone’s had a regular stream of injuries throughout his career. He’s a wonderful player who obviously wants to maximise his opportunities and to do that he needs to consistently spend time on the training field and the playing field.”

Tawake is scheduled to resume full training in six weeks.

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