After a horrendous run of injuries in 2018, which culminated in a split eyelid thanks to Brodie Retallick, All Blacks and Crusaders prop Joe Moody is back in action.
It’s been three months since Retallick stuck his thumb into Moody’s eyelid during a botched lineout move at an All Blacks training in Europe last year, but Moody places none of the blame on his international teammate for ending his 2018 season.
“That was a bit of a niggly situation,” Moody told Fairfax.
“In fairness, it was my own fault. I buggered up the lineout movement. It split it clean in half, it was sort of like the curtains were open when my eye was shut.”
Moody had to don an eyepatch for the remainder of the tour after visiting a plastic surgeon to make amends for the mishap, forcing him to miss tests against England, Ireland and Italy.
It was one of many significant injuries suffered by the 30-year-old last year, with a major shoulder surgery, a broken finger, an injured knee and a broken thumb all preceding his split eyelid injury, restricting him to just five appearances for the Crusaders and six for the All Blacks.
Moody made his return to the rugby field last week during the Crusaders’ 24-22 win over the Blues at Eden Park, his first outing since the All Blacks’ Bledisloe Cup victory over Australia in Yokohama last October.
It was a return that proved to test Moody a lot more than he anticipated thanks to Tim Perry’s broken arm.
Moody had only just been replaced by Perry early in the second half before the latter succumbed to what looked a painful injury, meaning the former had to plough through 73 minutes of action.
“It was a hell of a shock to the system,” Moody said.
“I wasn’t expecting to get 73 odd minutes, but I feel for the old mate Tim Perry more than what I do for my lungs and legs.
“I got subbed at 45 and thought my night was done. I just sort of sat down and got a few fluids on and I was back in the mixer again. You just have to embrace it. But at the same time, there is a second where you think, ‘oh, you bastard’.”
With key All Blacks being restricted to 180 minutes of action within the opening three rounds of action, the Crusaders will be forced to re-think how they’re going to implement Moody over the next fortnight as a result of his extra minutes in Auckland.
He’s listed to start against the Hurricanes in Christchurch this weekend, with the inexperienced Harry Allen set to provide cover from off the bench.
Perry underwent surgery on Thursday, but it is not yet known when he will return.
Despite the absence of their six-test loosehead prop, Moody is confident the Crusaders can attain victory in front of their home fans, which would earn them a record 17th straight Super Rugby win.
“Without sounding too cocky, we do rate our forward pack,” he said.
“It’s one of our strengths I feel, we’d like to try and put on a bit of a show on Saturday night.”
In other news:
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now