Thomson eyes run with Chiefs after relearning how to walk

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Former All Blacks loose forward Adam Thomson said on Tuesday he had signed a short-term pre-season training contract with the Waikato Chiefs, two years after a spinal infection had left him flat on his back in a Japanese hospital and unable to walk.

The 37-year-old, who was part of the All Blacks’ victorious 2011 World Cup squad, was confined to a hospital bed for two months after suffering lumbar discitis, a painful infection of the spaces between the vertebrae, in early 2018.

He spent 57 days in hospital, lost 12kg in weight and told TVNZ last year he had to learn how to walk again.

Thomson, who returned to rugby in the United States and at provincial level in New Zealand last year, said on Tuesday his perseverance had paid off and that he had been brought into the Chiefs pre-season camp.

“New year, new jersey,” he wrote in an Instagram post that showed him wearing a Chiefs training jersey.

“It’s a strange old beast this life we live, this time 2 years ago I was flat on my back in a Japanese hospital unable to walk.

“So never underestimate what the human body can do with a little self belief and a whole lot of hard work -- persistence pays.”

Thomson is one of eight players on short-term contracts with the Chiefs helping the team train during the Super Rugby pre-season as cover for All Blacks players who have extended breaks after the Rugby World Cup.

The Chiefs have their first pre-season game against the Auckland Blues on Friday and Thomson is likely to be involved, but chances of a permanent return to Super Rugby for the first time since 2016 look slim.

The Hamilton-based side already have two current All Blacks in Sam Cane and Luke Jacobson in the loose forward mix.

The Chiefs open the new season on Jan. 31 against the Blues at Eden Park.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford