Robbie Fruean: Heart surgery puts rugby into perspective

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Fruean on heart ops and World Cup hopes

Edinburgh centre Robbie Fruean says the experience of twice undergoing heart surgery has steeled him for any challenges rugby can throw at him.

The New Zealander has undergone two heart operations since 2007.

The 29-year-old has struggled with injuries in recent seasons, but having signed from Bath in the summer he is keen to prove himself at Edinburgh.

"Coming back from a heart surgery, it seems so minor breaking your forearm or ripping your pec," Fruean said.

"You go from something life-threatening to just breaking something."

Edinburgh's Jamie Ritchie
Jamie Ritchie was one of the star men as Edinburgh beat Dragons on Friday night

Having had open-heart surgery in 2007, and then another operation to address an irregular heartbeat, Fruean has also had a number of unrelated injuries to deal with.

"I've been through two heart surgeries and two minor surgeries, and since 2013 it's just been a case of injuries," he added.

"I'm used to dealing with it. It has been tough mentally at times, wondering whether I'd continue and keep putting my body through this.

"I've got a little one now, so I'm starting to realise the importance of being able to run around with her, dance with her at home, make her cheer up and things like that.

"I am starting to realise that, and that's why I'm taking care of my body a little bit more now, and just making sure that whenever the trainers are telling me I can train, I'll train, and not trying to push it."

Under new head coach Richard Cockerill, Edinburgh have started the Pro14 in positive style with back-to-back victories over Cardiff and Dragons.

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Pro14 highlights: Edinburgh 35-18 Dragons

Developing young Scottish players is central to Cockerill's plans for the club. Flanker Jamie Ritchie and full-back Blair Kinghorn - who Fruean thinks could be a Scotland regular in a couple of years and perhaps even a future Lion - were standout performers in the 35-18 win over Dragons on Friday.

Fruean believes his experience of playing alongside some of the greatest names in rugby history during his time with Crusaders in his homeland could prove beneficial to his young colleagues.

"I was part of the Crusaders, and coming through I was obviously one of the young guys," said Fruean, who represented New Zealand at under-19 level.

"I was playing with some big names there, like the All Black captain Richie McCaw, and Dan Carter.

"Coming over here, I'm not the young guy any more. I'm the more experienced guy that's trying to help the young guys coming through.

"That's how I've been treating this transition, because I'm normally the young guy, being the joker, mucking around.

"Now I make sure the boys are smiling, but I make sure they're doing what they need to to be able to perform [on the pitch]."

Richie McCaw
Fruean played alongside All Blacks legend Richie McCaw at Crusaders

Fruean hopes Edinburgh can give him the platform to catch the eyes of the Samoa selectors, with his aim to represent the Pacific Islanders at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

"This move was still a big move in regards to just where I want to go with rugby," he said.

"I've got aspirations to be a part of a World Cup, and I have the opportunity to do so if it's still open and if Samoa are still keen.

"That was one of the main reasons I moved here. It played a big part in that decision."

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