Super Rugby
Buxton Popoali'i needs further heart surgery
ESPN Staff
February 6, 2014
Buxton Popoali'i made his name as a flying winger with Otago Razorbacks in the ITM Cup © Getty Images

Buxton Popoali'i will sit out the 2014 Super Rugby season as he needs to undergo a second heart surgery.

"Buxton has a longstanding heart condition," Highlanders general manager Roger Clark said in a statement. "Recent routine tests have determined he needs further surgery, which he will undergo this month. Buxton will take a break from all rugby this year to focus on his recovery.

"While we, and Buxton himself, are devastated at this news, it is clear that he needs to focus entirely on his own health and wellbeing. Buxton is currently feeling and doing well and our medical staff are managing his care. Buxton is a very popular member of the Highlanders and we are all supporting him through what is a very difficult time."

Popoali'i overcame heart valve replacement surgery at the age of 16, but he played only 19 Air New Zealand Cup matches in three seasons for Wellington Lions before to Otago for the 2011 ITM Cup season with the Razorbacks. He himself as a starting winger for the Razorbacks and was then named in the Highlanders' wider training. He has played 15 matches for the Highlanders since making his debut against the Chiefs in February 2012 in Hamilton.

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