Blues reveal extent of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's and Harry Plummer's injuries
That was the verdict delivered by the Auckland-based franchise on Wednesday, four days after both players left the field prematurely in their side’s 24-22 Super Rugby Pacific win over the Chiefs at Eden Park.
In the immediate aftermath of the match, Blues head coach Leon MacDonald described the injuries of both players as “serious”, although further examination of Tuivasa-Sheck’s shoulder has revealed the damage isn’t as bad as first feared.
The same can’t be said of Plummer, though, who will watch his teammates from the sideline for the rest of the campaign as his injured shoulder will require surgery.
It’s a devastating blow for the 23-year-old pivot, who had started at first-five in his side’s opening two matches of the year in the absence of concussed star Beauden Barrett.
“Really disappointing, obviously, for both of those players, especially Harry,” Blues defence coach Craig McGrath told media on Wednesday.
“Particularly as he’s had a couple of games and getting a bit of a run and getting some games under his belt, so naturally disappointing for him.”
While the injury news is more positive for Tuivasa-Sheck, McGrath conceded that his development as a rugby union player will be delayed by his sideline spell.
“Rog, he obviously is just starting to find his feet. People forget that, yes, he’s been a professional athlete for a long time, but it was his second game of rugby on the weekend.
“He is getting better each week, so obviously the injury is going to slow that process down for him and his development.”
No time frame has yet been placed on when Tuivasa-Sheck will be available for action, as further assessment of his injury over the coming days will determine just how long he is out for.
Fortunately for the Blues, Plummer has been replaced by Barrett in the starting lineup for Friday’s clash against the Highlanders at North Harbour Stadium in Albany.
Barrett made his first appearance for the Blues in two years last weekend after shaking off a concussion that plagued him over summer after picking up a head knock while playing for the All Blacks against Ireland in November.
The two-time World Rugby Player of the Year will now make his first start for the Blues since returning from his season-long sabbatical in Japan last year.
“It’s good to have Baz back. He’s our vice-captain and a leader in our team,” McGrath said of Barrett.
“He definitely brings a real calm head to the group, obviously been around for a long time, but you just notice him on the training field, in and around the group off the field, just the calmness that he brings.”
Tuivasa-Sheck, meanwhile, has been replaced at second-five by veteran utility back Bryce Heem, while youngsters Sam Darry and Taine Plumtree have been added to the starting forward pack in place of Josh Goodhue and Tom Robinson, respectively.
“Taine’s really been nipping at the heels of everyone, really. He’s an athlete, that’s for sure. He’s a big body, he’s an athletic player, and he’s been rewarded, really, for all the good stuff that he’s done,” McGrath said.
“He had a super pre-season game [against] the Canes. We’re just rewarding him more than anything else, and we’re looking forward to seeing him go.
“Sam’s a good guy. He’s a legend. He’s a smart kid and he’s a smart operator around lineouts. He’s done some really good things for us off the bench.
“Everyone’s fungible in our group, and we’re looking forward to seeing Sam go and get a start alongside the old bull Luke Romano, which is good, so he’ll learn plenty off [of] him.”
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