Covid, cancer and a championship?

Marist Albion stalwart Rowan O’Gorman and wife Jennifer, who is battling breast cancer.
Marist Albion stalwart Rowan O’Gorman and wife Jennifer, who is battling breast cancer.
Rowan O’Gorman’s 17-season wait between Christchurch premier club rugby finals is even more poignant as the Marist Albion stalwart’s career could draw to a close as his wife battles cancer.

O’Gorman planned to play on in 2021 to eclipse former Canterbury prop Tala Kele’s Marist club record of 330 appearances, but the durable hooker may have to revise those plans after Jennifer was diagnosed with breast cancer during the Covid-19 lockdown.

One of the couple’s two boys jumped on mum during isolation and something didn’t feel right.

“Hopefully we’ve got it early enough to get us through,” said O’Gorman, who has logged 316 appearances, including the triumphant 2003 decider with HSOB.

O’Gorman never contemplated retirement, in spite of  years of subsequent disappointment - though semi-final defeats in 2013 and 2015 to New Brighton and Christchurch still sting.

Rowan O’Gorman
Rowan O’Gorman
Yet obviously Jennifer’s ongoing health takes precedence.

“She’s going through chemo at the moment, she’s had her operation. She’s finished the first lot of three-monthly treatment and starts her next lot of chemo in a couple of weeks,” O’Gorman said.

“It’s a massive thanks to her that I’ve been able to play. We’ll see what happens after Sunday.”

O’Gorman hopes Jennifer can be among a smattering of spectators allowed at Rugby Park when Marist Albion take on Metro Premier favourites Lincoln University.

“She is hoping to get along if the weather is nice,” he said.

While the club was endured a long wait to play on the final weekend of the season, victory would mean even more to their hooker-cum-set piece coach who scored a try against HSOB in 2003.

“I was young headgear-wearing six (blindside flanker) back then. I actually scored a try in that game,” he said.

“It’s pretty exciting to be back there. I doubt many people have gone 17 years between finals.

“We’d love to chuck another C in the mix. Cancer, Covid ... I just need a championship to go with it.”

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