You can't keep a good hooker down
(From Parade Newsmagazine, 6/11/2001)
Rugby players often share stories of their gashes, sprains and broken bones, but Pat Dunkley of Victoria now has an injury story no one can top. After nearly losing his life to flesh-eating disease last year, Mr. Dunkley recently returned to playing hooker with Canada's national rugby team. He was playing for Canada in Western Samoa last May when someone stomped on his right calf with a cleated boot. "I didn't expect it was anything serious, I get kicked and stomped all the time, but [the disease] just took off really fast," explains Mr. Dunkley, 28. "At the end of our 48hour return trip, I went right to the hospital." Doctors operated four times, grafting skin from the side of the thigh to the calf area, and he was in hospital for three weeks. Despite scars that require him to wear a nylon sleeve over his leg, he has recovered fully. In fact, he played rugby with his hometown James Bay team last September and for Canada in May's Pan-America tournament in Kingston, Ont. The high school rugby coach credits help from coaches and therapists, and a refusal to quit, for his comeback. "You have to give it your hardest effort," he says. "Just like when you are playing."