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All Black Emoni Narawa suffers ‘minor setback’ in bid to return from injury

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Chiefs coach Clayton Millan has confirmed that injured wing Emoni Narawa has suffered a “minor setback” which will see him miss the start of the Super Rugby Pacific season along with another All Black.

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Narawa scored a try on debut for the All Blacks last year before a devastating back injury sidelined the outside back for the rest of The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup series.

The 24-year-old was still included in the All Blacks’ plans for the Rugby World Cup, though, and appeared to be tracking towards a return before disaster struck once again.

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Then-All Blacks coach Ian Foster made the tough decision to send Narawa home after the one-Test All Black reaggravated the injury during a training session in Lyon before the tournament opener between New Zealand and France.

Narawa was reportedly expected to return in time for the Chiefs’ pre-season clash with the Blues last week but a “minor setback” will see the New Zealand international spend a bit more time on the sidelines.

“There’s no issues around the initial problems he had with his back, he just needs to build up a little bit of strength,” coach McMillan told Stuff.

“We know he’s going to be important to us in the long run and so it’s just a case of not wanting to push him before he’s 100 per cent right.”

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All Blacks lock Josh Lord will also be unavailable due to a rolled ankle, but in some good news, loose forwards Samipeni Finau and Simon Parker are set to be in the mix to return.

“He’s back running, it’s just probably building up the strength and making sure that when he comes back we don’t have any recurrence,” Millan said about Josh Lord.

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The Chiefs started their pre-season gametime with two wins from as many games up north in Japan before returning to New Zealand to face one of their arch-rivals.

Playing against the Auckland-based Blues at Onewa Domain on Friday, the Chiefs struck first through All Blacks centre Anton Lienert-Brown.

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But after the break – with both teams selecting what appeared to be near full-strength sides for the second 40 – it was all one-way traffic for the Blues. The hosts ‘won’ the second term 26-7.

Less than one week away from the Chiefs’ first regular season match of 2024, coach Millan said he does “think” the team are where they need to be before hosting the Crusaders on Friday.

“Our trainings have been really productive, the games have been tough, they’ve been far from perfect but we’ve been learning lots along the way, we’ve seen improvement each game we’ve played,” he added.

“I’m sure there’ll be a lot of continuity there but there’s been some guys that have really put their hand up in our first three games and we want to be in a position to reward performance.”

In a rematch of last year’s Super Rugby Pacific decider, the Chiefs will host defending champions the Crusaders in an enthralling season opener on Friday. That match at FMG Stadium Waikato will get underway at 7:05 pm (NZT).

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