Meet James McGarvey.
He’s the new Blues’ medicine man, stepping into the shoes of the seasoned Stephen Kara, who had 10 years as the club’s doctor.
McGarvey is not new to rugby. Far from it. He started back in 2003 as team doctor for (Auckland) Marist, moving to Ponsonby, then to Counties Manukau, Auckland and Canterbury. He had an association with the New Zealand Under 20s and then the Chiefs, when they won the 2012-13 Super Rugby titles, and was doctor for the All Blacks Sevens for several seasons up until the Rio Olympics in 2016.
McGarvey says the medical IP around the Blues is top quality, and he has leaned on those who have been there before and know the ropes, as it were.
“Stephen’s got a wealth of knowledge with this team, so I’ve been in contact with him a lot leading into this season, just trying to make the transition as seamless as possible”.
“We’re also fortunate that, four years ago the Blues invested in world class integrated sports management software that provides a single view of medical, fitness and training”.
Being a sports doctor at a Super Rugby club is bit more involved than just keeping an eye on injuries and making sure the hydration levels are high. The need for communication with all the coaching and medical staff is paramount, especially around the health of players.
“At club level, it might be one coach, one physio, one doctor, and so that communication might be easier. But we have five coaches, two physios, three S&C coaches. It’s really easy, if the communication isn’t good, for there to be mixed messages around players in terms of their welfare. It needs to be constant and consistent,” he says.
In the meantime, McGarvey will be monitoring the players’ sleeping patterns and watching the collisions closely for any signs of injury or concussion.
Such is the life of a sports physician.