Getting arthritis as a teenager changed his life forever, but James did not let it stop him from following his dream of a rugby career. He made his debut for Tasman Makos in 2012 and was then named in the Chiefs Super Rugby squad for 2014.
For four years James has been an extraordinary ambassador to Arthritis New Zealand He plays all his games wearing an orange wristband to raise awareness of arthritis.
James, from Nelson came home from school with a rash in October 2007. He was also lethargic. He had been at cricket so the family thought it might be some spray on the fields. He slightly improved but in May 2008 everything came back with a vengeance and from Christmas Day till May 2009, James could hardly walk.
This was a scary time for this sports mad lad and his family, as they sought a diagnosis. Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Since that time with the correct medication his condition has been managed and currently James is playing rugby at the highest levels.
But more importantly he is sharing his story with other kids and parents who are confronted by this diagnosis.
More and more young lads have read his story and James has made himself available, whenever possible, to work with Arthritis New Zealand and raise awareness of arthritis for young people and talk to others about his journey and how he hasn’t given up on his dreams. This fit rugby player charging around the field isn’t the face of arthritis that you would expect.