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Flynn Boxes Clever To Avoid Another Knock Out Blow

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Chris Barclay of NZPA

Auckland, Oct 22 NZPA - Boxing clever could be the key to Corey Flynn ending a rare All Black rugby tour without an arm in a plaster cast.

The Canterbury hooker has resorted to a seemingly risky strengthening programme that sees the 28 year old jabbing the heavy bag at a gym in Christchurch.

Although it seems an unfeasible pastime for a sportsman with a list of fractures as long as your arm, Flynn believes the strategy has complemented the titanium rods that have been inserted at various points during his sporadic career.

Flynn has played only five tests since making his debut as the 2003 World Cup squad's third hooker in pool romps against Canada and Tonga.

Wavering accuracy and coaching preferences for the quality of Keven Mealamu, Anton Oliver and Andrew Hore limited his involvement, though fragile arms haven't helped.

At last count Flynn has broken or fractured his left arm four times and his sturdier right just the once.

On last year's end of year tour -- Flynn's first All Blacks experience in four years -- he found himself thrust on to the bench for the Grand Slam leg after Hore hobbled off in the opening minutes of the inaugural offshore Bledisloe Cup test in Hong Kong.

But Flynn's support role to Mealamu lasted only two tests. In the aftermath of the midweek thriller against Munster yet another fracture was diagnosed, relegating him to the stands as Hika Elliot deputised.

Flynn aimed his recovery at the Super 14 but a three-month break was insufficient -- in round two against the Brumbies the left arm cracked again.

Fronting a media scrum at the All Blacks training camp in west Auckland, Flynn was well-prepared when the inevitable question was raised: "Are the arms OK?"

"Arms are fine," he said before justifying his new boxing regime.

"It's known minor trauma creates the healing -- the impact of me hitting the bag strengthened the bone. That's the only thing that's really changed."

Flynn donned the boxing gloves during a six month rehab following the Canberra break in February, a painful reminder he was too eager to get back on the paddock after the setback in Limerick.

"From the Munster game I had three months to get back for the Super 14. I set that as a goal but in hindsight it was too early."

Flynn eventually made his provincial comeback midway through Canterbury's Air NZ Cup defence and showed enough form to be chosen as the second hooker to Hore, ahead of this season's reserves Aled de Malmanche and Elliot.

He now sports two Victor Matfield-style forearm guards, bandaged foam which provide peace of mind.

"They're there basically to provide confidence," he said.

"They've been a hindrance the old arms, but for every game I get though the confidence barrel fills up."

As one of only two specialist hookers on the six-match tour, Flynn can expect to share a heavy workload with Hore, an assignment fraught with difficulty.

The All Black lineout has been prone to malfunction throughout the season, a weakness that influenced Graham Henry replacing Steve Hansen as forwards coach.

With positional kicking a forte of the northern hemisphere sides on their puggy home grounds, Flynn realises glitches have to be kept to a minimum on the All Blacks throw.

"We know we're going to be there or thereabouts every game, we have to be on our game and we've been working together pretty hard," Flynn said of his combination with Hore.

Flynn owes his position on this tour to Mealamu's unavailability and was determined to take greater advantage than last year by adding more caps to a career already featuring NPC, Super rugby and Ranfurly Shield successes.

"I'm fortunate to achieved some things in footy," he said "but this is where I've sort of halted -- to be back here is pretty special."

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