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'It could have been worse'

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'It could have been a lot worse' - Sam Cane opens up about neck injury

As his recovery from a serious neck injury continues, All Blacks flanker Sam Cane has opened up in an intimate interview with The New Zealand Herald.

Cane suffered a broken neck during the All Blacks’ 32-30 victory over the Springboks in October after an attempted cleanout went awry.

“As bad as the injury was, I also, in a funny way, felt pretty lucky because it could have been a lot worse,” Cane told the Herald. “We’re only a couple of millimetres away from never playing again so in a funny way I was pretty grateful that I was going to be OK and, one: I was going to be able to live a healthy, normal life and two: to get back playing rugby is awesome.”

Cane said he was “pretty immobile” and in a lot of pain for the first six weeks of his recovery.

Late last month 27-year-old Cane was able to finally get rid of his neck brace and partake in some light exercise.

“Coming back to training now after having pretty much four months away from rugby completely, I’m genuinely excited to be back,” Cane said.

“There’s been a lot of firsts. You know, like the first time doing this since the injury and coming to grips with what you can and can’t do. After three months of being told not to pick up anything more than two kilos or do anything strenuous whatsoever, to be back running, jeez you’re a bit tentative and it’s all just getting your confidence back really.”

With no return date set, Cane will see a specialist in April to assess how well his fracture is healing.

“They need to see, obviously, clear healing of the fracture but also clear healing of the two vertebrae, he needs to see clear, white healthy bone and if I get the OK there I’ll be able to work my way back into contact and rugby training.

“It all just depends on how that scan and that meeting goes at the six-month mark, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t go well.”

As for knowing when he is back to his best once his on-field return finally rolls around, Cane said “I suppose I’ll only know that when I’m making my first tackle or clean out my first ruck.”

“Every other time I’ve had an injury I’ve been able to step out there, put it to one side and just play. Obviously this is a bit of a different context, but I suppose I’ll only know how I’ll react when the time comes.

“It’ll be a mental challenge; it won’t be a physical limitation.”

The Chiefs kick off their Super Rugby season with a home fixture against the Highlanders on February 15.

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'It could have been a lot worse' - Sam Cane opens up about neck injury