From the rugby field to fire­fight­ing

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - KRIS DANDO

‘‘It’s a fan­tas­tic en­vi­ron­ment that Ger­rard [Fasavalu] and Ja­cob [El­li­son] have got go­ing.’’

It’s sad for North­ern United fans that they won’t see Chris Mid­dle­ton ram­pag­ing around Porirua Park again.

The big lock had re­cov­ered from an an­kle in­jury and was in ex­cel­lent form in the last three matches as Norths made a push for a Ju­bilee Cup spot.

Mid­dle­ton – who played four sea­sons for Waikato and had a year in Italy – said get­ting back to train­ing with his Porirua club­mates was easy.

‘‘It’s a fan­tas­tic en­vi­ron­ment that Ger­rard [Fasavalu] and Ja­cob [El­li­son] have got go­ing,’’ he said.

But Mid­dle­ton had to forgo the op­por­tu­nity to link with long-time lock­ing part­ner Api Naika­tini in com­ing weeks and add to his 82 games for Norths be­cause he has been ac­cepted into the fire ser­vice.

A three-month course in Ro­torua awaits and he couldn’t risk a rugby in­jury.

‘‘I’ve been a pro­fes­sional rugby player for as long as I can re­mem­ber, but I’m 29 and need to think about that next step in my life, and pay­ing my bills.

‘‘The fire ser­vice is a mas­sive op­por­tu­nity for me.’’

Mid­dle­ton, Ti­tahi Bay born and bred, has made a name for him­self not only with a ball un­der his arm, but on the wa­ter.

The Ti­tahi Bay Surf Life Sav­ing Club has pro­duced many cham­pi­ons over the years and Mid­dle­ton and the A surf boat crew have kept that tra­di­tion go­ing the past two sum­mers.

Al­though they dipped out at na­tion­als this year, Mid­dle­ton, Jono Boyd, Brett Hamer, Jor­dan Tyrrell and sweep Wil McDow­ell did enough to earn se­lec­tion for New Zealand against Aus­tralia at Shell­har­bour, New South Wales, in Fe­bru­ary.

They lost the test se­ries 2-1 but made the fi­nals of the Aus­tralian club na­tion­als at Shell­har­bour.

‘‘It’s a dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment to rugby but some­thing that’s al­ways been im­por­tant to me. I grew up on that beach and this club is like a fam­ily. Rugby took me away but I al­ways wanted to come back and row.’’

This year’s A crew was tightknit, worked their socks off and had un­fin­ished busi­ness, Mid­dle­ton said.

‘‘We had a bad na­tion­als [this sum­mer], so com­ing back strong is some­thing we want to tick off.’’

PHOTO: KRIS DANDO

Chris Mid­dle­ton is look­ing for­ward to the next challenge in his life, but the surf club is likely to re­main a big pri­or­ity.

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