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Norm Hewitt – Hero Today, Gone Tomorrow?

Associate Minister for Accident Insurance Ruth Dyson said today that Norm Hewitt's decision to play with a broken arm during Saturday night's NPC final was foolish and short-sighted.

"Norm could have aggravated the injury by continuing to play when he broke his arm. In the long run, this would be good for Wellington's rivals like Canterbury, but not for Norm.

"Kiwis have always admired people who don't give up in the face of pain or adversity. However, the reality is that a few minutes reckless heroics on the rugby field could end up in a lifetime of disability."

Ms Dyson said local heros like Norm also needed to think of their public responsibilities.

"By playing with a broken arm, Norm has been a poor role model for his young fans.

"We are trying to educate young people to have a safe attitude to sport, to avoid injury and to look after themselves when they are injured. Norm's gung-ho attitude during the NPC final undermines those messages."

Ms Dyson said it was particularly disappointing that Norm's actions appeared to have been backed by the Lion's team management.

She said a recent ACC study showed that rugby injuries had halved since 1994 when a rugby injury prevention programme was introduced.

"The study shows that changes in the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of rugby players and coaches have helped halve rugby injury rates since 1994.

"However, rugby is still the riskiest sport by far. If Norm's attitude is anything to go by, we still have a long way to go to get the safety message across."

Ms Dyson, MP for Banks Peninsula, said her comments had nothing to do with her being a staunch Canterbury rugby supporter.

"I would have said exactly the same thing if any of the Canterbury players had been as daft."

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