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Hobbs faces yet another comeback

Saturday 18 Dec 2010 6:26 p.m.

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By Di O'Connell

Promising Wellington and Highlanders rugby player Michael Hobbs has been sidelined for at least six months with a career threatening back problem.

It’s been a tough year for the Hobbs family, with his father Jock recently being forced to step down as New Zealand rugby union chairman, to continue his fight against cancer.

But Michael Hobbs has no plans on hanging up the boots, he will have spinal surgery at a Los Angeles clinic specialising in American football injuries.

Hobbs is braced for a long time, but hopefully not a lifetime without rugby.

“It's been a big part of my life with my Dad and two uncles but I guess like any New Zealand boy that plays rugby [I] always have that desire to play for AB’s,” he says.

The talented 22-year-old was on his way, but last year's bright start with the Blues was cut short with a rare spinal break.

“[I] started to get quite severe pain if I was hit the wrong way, fell the wrong way. The science behind that was my muscles would spasm to protect the break and try to stop it from moving,” he says.

But the midfielder managed to work his way back into the Highlanders this season.

“[I] got tackled in the last minute and I felt it tear in the middle of my back and I knew straightaway that I'd re-fractured it,” he says.

But he only gave up weeks later after Conrad Smith broke his hand and he made the decision to have back surgery.

Hobb's hopes are now pinned on 25-millimetres of metal welding his lower vertebrae together.

The long months of recovery ahead are put into perspective by his father's leukaemia.

“I can't be sitting round here at home and getting too down on having back surgery when your Dad's in the next room having chemotherapy,” he says.

Now Hobbs is out to nail a third comeback.

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