The Blues will welcome back their long-term injured players ready for the start of the 2017 Investec Super Rugby season.
Former New Zealand Under-20 star TJ Faiane and fan favourite Rene Ranger are progressing well in their rehabilitation. Both suffered season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injuries earlier this year and both have faced long term rehabilitation – Faiane for 13 months and Ranger for 11 months.
“Both have done a great job in terms of rehabilitation following their surgeries,” said Blues medical director, Dr Stephen Kara. “These sorts of injuries require real patience and discipline and both guys have coped well with the situation and the mental challenges to do things by the book.”
Rehabilitation is a long-term planned activity beginning after recovery from surgery, based on each individual case.
The first phase involves gentle activation of muscles and low-risk cardio work, which increases in phase 2 to include more fitness on the bike and grinder, and neuromuscular training on wobble board and rocker board.
From weeks 7-12 allows for some straight-line running and phase 4 up to 16 weeks includes goals of straight running without pain and jumping without difficulty.
The progression for the next 10 weeks involves aggressive strengthening work with squats and leg press and step ups, agility drills, plyometrics with hopping and jumping and sport-specific interval and other training work which is the final phase until return to play – no earlier than seven months after recovery from surgery.
Both players are expected to play a full part in the Blues pre-season plans which get underway in early December.
New signing Sonny Bill Williams, who suffered an Achilles tendon rupture at the Rio Olympics, is also progressing well in his rehabilitation and is expected to return at some stage later in the Blues’ open eight-game block until their first bye.
Captain James Parsons is due to return for the start of pre-season after more than two months out with acute concussion.
George Moala has returned home from the All Blacks Northern Tour with an elbow ligament injury but Dr Kara believes he should also be ready early in the pre-season training block.
A number of players have minor injuries suffered during the Mitre-10 Cup competition but all are expected to be ready for the start of pre-season training. These include Michael Collins (hand injury), Piers Francis (hand), Blake Gibson (shoulder), Josh Goodhue (ankle), Sam Nock (hand), Declan O’Donnell (wrist) and Jimmy Tupou (face).
The other members of the All Blacks will make gradual returns to the Blues with the likes of Jerome Kaino, Patrick Tuipulotu and Charlie Faumuina the last to come back to the squad before the start of the season.