By the time Nui Barlett left school those in the know knew rugby was going to be a huge part of his future.
By the time time he career was curtailed by a spinal injury in 2006 Nui had already been a two-time Ngati Kahungunu Sportsperson of the Year and world champion touch player.
Nui was in his third season for the Hawkes Bay Magpies when he sustained two dislocated cervical vertebrae when a maul collapsed during the final quarter of the Magpies 45-0 loss to Canterbury on July 28.
The next 2 months were spent in the Burwood Spinal Unit in Christchurch recovering. Due to luck and a whole lot of determination Nui was able to walk again shortly afterward, but his rugby playing career was over. He continued to play touch for a few seasons buyt never to the same lofty heights as in his hay day.
Nowadays Nui is still heavily involved in coaching in the Hawkes Bay region and he was all smiles as he added his first national title as a coach after his Hawke's Bay under-15 mixed team won their Nelson-hosted nationals with a 6-5 win against Auckland in their final in 2012.
NZ Rugby Foundation
Sport Auckland House Level 4, Alexandra Park Function Centre, Gate B, Greenlane Road West, Epsom, Auckland