In the battle with post season injury Dan Carter is off the field and under the knife, while former Crusader Robbie Fruean is back from the knife and ready for the field with Waikato.
Fruean was forced to withdraw from his Super Rugby campaign after ongoing health issues spanning back to a childhood heart issue for which he had surgery. His health issues were further exacerbated when he suffered Rheumatic Fever in 2008 leading to further complications.
Fruean’s return marks a further strengthens an already solid Waikato Chiefs team. Ben Afeaki showed his dominance in the New Zealand Maori. There is a strong All Blacks flavour with Aaron Cruden, Brodie Retallick, Liam Messam and the return of veteran Mils Muliana all point to a team that is ready to defend their title. Fruean will find himself slotting into this team well, bringing his own strength to the team.
Associated Press reports Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie saying “[We] won’t push the conditioning side too hard, but [we] are hopeful to have Fruean match fit by the time the season kicks off.“
“He reckons he is in the worst condition he’s ever been in but he got a Personal Best on his [fitness test] the other day so I think over the next few weeks we’ll get a fair bit of work into him and are pretty hopeful he’ll be ready to go at the start of the pre-season,”
“He’s a monster and gives us a bit of size in midfield so he’s a good option. And his speed’s good, but his repeat of speed stuff is what is going to be important.”
Carter on the other hand is capping off what has been a difficult season injury wise. After limping from the field during New Zealand’s test against England at Twickenham on November 18, forcing him to miss the Ireland test, it was revealed by All Blacks team doctor Tony Page that Carter was suffering “wear and tear” in his right Achilles tendon.
Along with this Page advised on the All Blacks site “Dan has some bone spurs in the same ankle which need to be removed so he will have an operation for that. This is similar to what he had done a few years ago.”
Not surprisingly Carter has begun a six-month break from rugby, which amongst other things means he will not rejoin his Crusaders Super Rugby side until July. Richie McCaw has indicated he should be available however, and again the string All Blacks contingent of Israel Dagg, Kieran Read and pretty much every Whitelock on the planet with Adam, George, Luke and Sam Whitelock all ready to take the field.
Finally, the biggest news off field this week has been the revelation that ITM cup side Taranaki have ended their 17 year relationship with the Wellington Hurricanes Super Rugby franchise, and are aligning themselves with Waikato. Taranaki has long been a proving ground for great players, including Beauden Barrett. Wellington still draws on the talents of Hawkes Bay, Manawatu and of course ITM cup finalists Wellington. This new move though certainly makes the next Super Rugby season, and ITM Cup season a very different field of play.
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Main Photo Credit: Phil Walter via Zimbio