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Patterson: "I was due to star in Australia after the Lions tour. Instead, I returned in a wheelchair."

Ex-Ulster and Ireland ace Colin Patterson recalls his horrific knee injury that ended his career at 25

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Prized asset: Colin Patterson inducted into the Rugby Writers Ireland Hall of Fame in 2017

Prized asset: Colin Patterson inducted into the Rugby Writers Ireland Hall of Fame in 2017

Colin Patterson

Colin Patterson

Kicking on: Colin Patterson in action for the British and Irish Lions

Kicking on: Colin Patterson in action for the British and Irish Lions

Prized asset: Colin Patterson inducted into the Rugby Writers Ireland Hall of Fame in 2017

It's now 40 years since so much changed for Colin Patterson during an afternoon on South Africa's Highveld. Four decades on July 8, to be exact, since his right knee was torn asunder by a freak injury playing for the British and Irish Lions at the De Beers Stadium in Kimberley against Griqualand West.

Just six minutes into an otherwise forgettable end-of-tour game was when the scrum-half's time in top-flight rugby came to a juddering halt. He was 25 and would never feature for Ireland or Ulster again, and all this less than two years after making his international debut.

His loss to the game was much more than just another playing career taking its final bow due to a premature and unexpected injury as Patterson was a special talent.