Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Loyalty of Falcons 'Will Be Paid Back' Injured Kiwi Lock Vows to Get Involved

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Loyalty of Falcons 'Will Be Paid Back' Injured Kiwi Lock Vows to Get Involved

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith

KIWI lock Andrew van der Heijden has revealed the anguish of breaking his arm just two days after signing for Newcastle Falcons.

The 26-year-old was 11,000 miles away at the time, helping his Auckland side to a big home win over Tasman to book their place in the semi-finals of New Zealand's ITM Cup.

But then came the moment that threatened to ruin everything.

"One of the Tasman players just ran with his head down, and when I went to tackle him the head ended up fracturing the radius in my right arm," said van der Heijden, having finally landed at Kingston Park last week.

"It wasn't too flash, and it was a hard week with missing the ITM Cup semifinal and obviously having just signed my contract with Newcastle.

"It was a worrying time, and if you ask my wife she'll tell you how grumpy I was.

"The first thing was that I'd missed out on a home semi-final with my Auckland team, but longer term I was obviously thinking about the contract with Newcastle as well. It was a pretty nervous week with a few sleepless nights wondering if they would rip up my deal or not, but I have to say that right from off the Falcons were really supportive.

"They said they still wanted me to come over and join them, and I'm really determined to pay them back for that loyalty."

Having turned down head coach Alan Tait's offer of a further two weeks in the Auckland sun, the 6 foot 7 lock forward encountered a winter wonderland last week when he touched down on Tyneside. "It's great that the club were so good about it though, and that's why I wanted to come here a few weeks earlier - to basically repay them for the faith they showed in me after the injury," he said.

"I wanted to get my rehab up here and get involved with the club as much as I can, as well as getting used to the cold.

"It was certainly interesting flying into the airport seeing all the snow everywhere. …

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