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All Blacks prospect Pari Pari Parkinson ruled out for 12 months

By Alex McLeod

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Highlanders star and All Blacks prospect Pari Pari Parkinson has been dealt a significant blow after suffering a serious knee injury that will keep him sidelined for an entire year.

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Parkinson left the field in pain after Tasman teammate Anton Segner collided into him while tackling Wellington midfielder Peter Umaga-Jensen during last weekend’s NPC clash in Blenheim.

The Highlanders announced on Friday that Parkinson subsequently sustained a “multi-ligament rupture” to his right knee and will miss the entirety of next year’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign and most, if not all, of the NPC in 2022.

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The diagnosis is a cruel one for Parkinson, who has been tipped as a potential All Blacks candidate for some time now due to his enormous 2.04m, 119kg frame.

It also serves as familiar yet unwelcome news for the Highlanders, who have already dealt with or are currently dealing with similarly serious knee injuries to fullback Sam Gilbert, halfback Folau Fakatava and wing Jona Nareki.

A formidable presence at the lineout, a rugged defender and an aggressive ball-carrier, Parkinson, who signed a one-year contract extension with the Highlanders in March, will be a sorely missed at the Dunedin-based franchise next year.

Assistant coach Clarke Dermody empathised with the 25-year-old lock, who is a Maori All Blacks representative, after hearing about his latest injury, which comes after he recovered from a serious ankle injury earlier this year.

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“I feel for Pari, he has worked hard to get into good shape after a couple of injury setbacks recently, his form for Tasman has been outstanding and he certainly looked set for a big season with us,” Dermody said in a statement.

“We will work closely with him during his rehab and make sure he comes back strong and ready to go in 2023.”

With Josh Dickson, Bryn Evans and Manaaki Selby-Rickit already in their ranks for next season, the Highlanders will begin their search for a player to replace Parkinson.

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