Life has taken a turn for the best for this Ngati Awa uri (Te Tawera ki Umutahi, Matataa). Recently rejoining the Chiefs after suffering a life-altering injury, Hikawera Elliot, talks of the greatest blessing in this difficult journey, his bond with his beautiful daughter Willa. He recently shared his story with New Idea, which you can read in full here

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The rugby star tells how the hardest year of his life was really a blessing in disguise.

Playing at the park with his adorable daughter, rugby star Hikawera Elliot is amazed at how much his life has changed. One year ago, the former All Black had just split from the love of his life and was potentially facing life in a wheelchair after suffering a devastating neck injury.

Now, exclusively speaking with New Idea, 28-year-old Hika tells how his life has taken a very positive turn. After 12 months of rehabilitation, the talented hooker is fitter and stronger than ever and has been selected for the Chiefs, marking his comeback to the game he loves.

He reveals he wouldn’t have made it without his two-year-old daughter, Willa, who snuggles into his lap during our interview.

‘She’s my greatest achievement in life and I believe my injury was actually a blessing in some ways,’ says Hika, who looked after Willa while recuperating in his home region of Hawke’s Bay.

‘Having the year off rugby, I had the time to really be a father and parent Willa on a daily basis. If I had been caught up in footy this year I would have missed out on so much of her growth.

‘I’ve formed a really special bond with my little baby. I take pride in being a hands-on dad, changing nappies, bathing my child… I love doing that stuff.’

It’s not just a newfound love for dad duties that has Hika smiling – he is thrilled to share that he and Willa’s mother, beauty therapist Anna Morton, have rekindled their romance.

The couple split just before Hika’s life-changing injury, and he admits he didn’t think he would get a second chance.

‘I had moved into the role of just being there as a dad and a co-parent. This injury has given both of us some time to grow and really understand what we want. Anna said she saw the changes in me in terms of being a good father and it’s so good to be back together as a family.’

READ THE FULL STORY HERE

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