All Black prop Karl Tu’inukuafe was left so confused by a viral brain infection that his wife was forced to call an ambulance, the World Cup hopeful has revealed.
Cult hero Tu’inukuafe, the great rugby success story of 2018, is battling to make the tournament in Japan after being left out of the Bledisloe Cup squad.
The big Blues front-rower has explained for the first time how serious his condition was. He was diagnosed with viral meningitis, leading to two months on the sideline.
“The doctors don’t know exactly how it came by, it was an infection, fluid on the brain,” he told D’Arcy Waldegrave on Radio Sport.
“It was viral meningitis, not bacterial (meningitis) which is fatal. There is illness for a bit and you can get past it.
“There was a whole bunch of confusion, like concussion-like symptoms for a week. I had to take eight to 10 weeks off.
“It wasn’t too bad, it could have gone a different way. Luckily it was on the side of not being fatal so I was happy about that.”
Tu’inukuafe’s wife immediately rang Blues doctor James McGarvey when the extent of the problem became apparent.
“My wife was freaking – I didn’t know what was going on. I was confused about what I was actually doing at home,” he said.
“The Blues doctor told her to call an ambulance. Luckily, the doctors got through to me and fixed me up after a couple of days.”
And he has taken his demotion with utmost humility.
“I was fine with it, I applaud the coaches’ decision,” he said.
“It is like loyalty…my opportunity only came from injuries to Tim Perry and Atu Moli. They have gone back to what they were looking at from the start.
“Atu had a great season, and I was missing half the season through illness. It is good they gave him a shot again because he had a terrible injury last year. To see him come back and doing so well is really good.
“Whatever is best for the team. We trust what the coaches decide to do – we’re always happy for the brothers getting in the team and doing well.
“I could always be better at scrummaging – they tell me to do more than that. There are a lot of other roles that you need to be really good on.
“Your rugby IQ has to be really up there when it comes to reacting to plays and so on. They gave me a whole list of stuff…reacting quicker, ball playing and so on.
“I could always be fitter and more mobile. Angus Ta’avao is one of the main guys who is being really mobile, one of those props showing that in New Zealand.”
Tu’inukuafe said playing for North Harbour would allow a bit more freedom in his game compared to what was required at higher levels.
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