Just six months after a seven-centimetre tumour was discovered on his brain, Orange Emus junior and now St Stanislaus College Bathurst back-rower Fletcher Wright made his triumphant return to the field two weeks ago.
Last October Wright copped a head knock in his NSW side’s first game of the Rugby Australia Under-16 Championship and although he passed the routine head injury assessment (HIA), the on-site doctor recommended he undergo an MRI when he got back to Orange.
That revealed the tumour, devastating Wright and his family and sending waves through the rugby community.
But after what his mother Danielle labelled a “slow and hard” process recovering, the 16-year-old returned to the field in Stannies first XV’s trial against Barker and continued that return against Knox last weekend, playing No.8 in both games.
“Fletcher has been determined since being diagnosed that he would get back on the field, so it was no surprise to us to see him make his return,” Danielle Wright told the NSW Waratahs’ media unit, her son’s return also coming well ahead of schedule.
“It happened a month earlier than the doctors predicted, so it proves how determined he was. We were so proud after all he had gone through when he was named in the starting line-up for Stannies’ first XV.”
When you hear how Wright approached his recovery, it’s hardly a surprise he made it back on the paddock so soon.
“The process was slow and hard. As soon as the doctors gave him clearance to start training again, it was hard to stop him from pushing the boundaries,” Danielle said.
“If he was allowed to do 10 push ups, he would grit his teeth and do 15. We had to tell him to do less knowing he would push on and do more.
“He would do one lap of the oval to the rest of the team’s two laps, or one hill sprint to their two. His coaches Jack English and Phil Lewis have been great support to him and having faith in his ability to get back.”
She went on to pay tribute to the support Wright received, not just from his Stannies coaches or NSW Rugby, but the wider community in general too.
“Within four hours of … finding out about the diagnosis, (NSW Rugby’s) Michael Doyle and Matt Evrard were at Fletcher’s bedside,” she said.
“NSW Rugby has been a great support and have kept in contact throughout this time. Their support and involvement with Fletch has played a major role in keeping him positive and motivated to getting himself better and back on the playing field.
“The old cliché is it takes a community to raise a child, and it took a lot of people’s support to aid in Fletcher’s recovery.”
Danielle Wright says her son will look to his HSC and continuing in Stannies’ first XV in the near future, with an eye on representative rugby as well. After that, she says he’ll look to work his way into “a trade of profession” although his dream remains to play rugby as a career.