Shark attack survivor's gift to rescuers: box of beer

Northland surfer Andrew Brough had a lucky escape. Image: NZ Herald
Northland surfer Andrew Brough had a lucky escape. Image: NZ Herald

Shark attack survivor Andrew "Nugget" Brough has found a decidedly Kiwi way to thank the men who saved him: shouting them a box of beer.

The Whangarei surfer, who was due to have surgery to deep bite wounds left in his arm this afternoon, said he'd had more time to reflect on his attack by a great white shark at Baylys Beach near Dargaville on Friday evening.

The 25-year-old had been in the water for 30 minutes when the shark came at him from below, biting him in the arm so severely that 40 stitches were required.

But his surfboard - a JS Industries board that he'd just bought from Australia for $1000 - took the brunt of the bite, and was left with a tooth in it.

Speaking to The New Zealand Herald from his hospital bed today, Brough estimated that his whole arm would have ripped off if his board hadn't blocked the juvenile shark.

And if he'd been positioned just half a metre down the board, the predator likely could have had a clear run at his stomach.

"I think it all sort of dawned on me yesterday… and my fiancé was a bit shook up talking about it… but it all could have ended - it was a reality check."

"I mean, I lived in Western Australia for five years when attacks were happening there, and everyone was always talking about it, but for it to actually happen to you, you never think it's possible.

"That's why when the shark came up and actually hit me, and I saw it thrashing around, well I just thought, this is it."

A shark tooth embedded in the surfboard belonging to the Whangaeri man. Photo: supplied via NZ...
A shark tooth embedded in the surfboard belonging to the Whangaeri man. Photo: supplied via NZ Herald

That said, Brough was determined to be back out on the waves as soon as he could.

After a final round of surgery today, and a check that he'd sustained no tendon or nerve damage, he expected to be wearing the cast fitted around his arm for several weeks at least.

"There'll be a solid two weeks in a cast, then I start rehab, then I'll be back in the water soon after that hopefully."

While he didn't think his injury would affect his surfing, he had no doubt there would now always be a "mental barrier" in the wake of his near-miss.

"It's always going to be there in the back of your head… but I'm inspired not to let it affect me.

"Surfing's what I love doing – the only thing that's gonna hold me back is getting a new board, so if JS Industries were able to help me out there, it'd be much appreciated."

He remained keen to compare stories with legendary Australian surfer Mick Fanning, who also had an encounter with what was suspected to be a great white shark during a tournament in South Africa three years ago.

In the meantime, he wanted to thank in person the people he credited with getting him to safety.

They included his mate Tohi Henry- "he was with me when the whole ordeal happened and was with me all the way through" – along with a Whangarei firefighter who rushed to his aid, and another local, Garry Yeabsley, who transported Brough up the road in his ute to a vacant lot to wait until emergency services arrived.

"I'd like to say thanks to them… I'm going to take a box around to them when I can."

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