Hurricanes flanker Ardie Savea and prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen are in a race against time to be fit for the start of the Wellington-based franchise’s Super Rugby campaign.
Savea (torn bicep) and Toomaga-Allen (knee) both had operations in August and admitted they would be touch and go for week one of the 2015 season.
The Hurricanes take on the Crusaders, on January 31, and Blues, on February 6, in pre-season matches before facing the Lions in Johannesburg on February 13 in their tournament opener.
Savea and Toomaga-Allen hope to participate in the Hurricanes’ pre-season matches but the season opening tour to South Africa and Australia may be a more realistic target.
“The rehab has gone well, I’m in good nick and l’ve really looked after the knee, which has brought it [recovery] forward a little but I’m not going to rush,” Toomaga-Allen told Fairfax Media.
“My main focus is Africa, making that tour, maybe playing that last preseason game.
“I’m strong, I’m pretty fit, I have a good aerobic base and I can run but I can’t change direction yet. I’ve just started doing that and I’m looking to build that up over the next three weeks. I’m a bit slow off the mark at the moment and with those subtle movements.”
The biggest challenge for Toomaga-Allen after his operation has been retraining the muscle memory in his leg.
“I had to learn to run again and when I’m not thinking specifically about the knee my leg drags a bit, under fatigue,” added the 24-year-old.
“I’m at about 75-80 per cent right now and we’re looking to get toward 90 per cent in terms of recovery by the end of December. Come the end of January I’m hoping to be at 95 to 100 per cent by the time we play our first preseason game.”
21-year-old Savea is also coming to terms in what is the first major injury of his career.
“I’m around that 70 per cent stage,” he said.
“I’m not doing full weights but everything else. I’m getting there,” he said of an injury first thought to be in his shoulder. “I tore my bicep tendon.
“The scan showed shoulder but when they got me in for surgery it was actually the bicep.”
On the positive side, he’s surgery has fixed what Savea always thought was a dodgy shoulder.
“It actually feels better than it did before the surgery,” he said.
“I had shoulder problems since I came out of school, so it was good to finally get it feeling right.”