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A Wairarapa rugby player is in an induced coma after an early morning fight in a Masterton car park.
Sean Robinson (19), who plays for the Pioneer Rugby Club, is in a critical condition in Wellington Hospital after receiving serious head injuries.
Detective Senior Sergeant Scott Miller said the fight between Robinson and an 18-year-old started sometime between 2am and 3am on Sunday morning after an argument near McDonald's on Chapel St.
"There was a verbal altercation and maybe some sort of challenge," Mr Miller said.
He said the pair then went behind the Masterton District Council building where the alleged fight took place.
Several others in their late teens were watching on, according to Mr Miller.
He said there was "no doubt" that alcohol was a factor in the lead up to the incident.
Mr Robinson was unconscious when police arrived at the scene. He was taken to Wairarapa Hospital and then flown to Wellington Hospital when medical staff realised how serious his injuries were.
He was operated on in Wellington Hospital for bleeding on the brain.
Pioneer Club President Tere Torea is at Wellington Hospital with Mr Robinson's immediate family.
He said Mr Robinson is a "great player with great potential."
- Eliott Parker of the Wairarapa Times-Age