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‘Dropped 2kgs already’: Patrick Tuipulotu provides update on injury layoff

By Finn Morton
Patrick Tuipulotu of the Blues warms up ahead of the round six Super Rugby Pacific match between Chiefs and Blues at FMG Stadium Waikato, on April 01, 2023, in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

After breaking his jaw in Japan earlier this month, Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu has revealed he’s already lost two kilograms as the injury keeps him to just “soft” and “mashed food.”

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Tuipulotu, 31, was injured in the dying stages of the Blues’ emphatic pre-season win over Tokyo Sungoliath in Tokyo after colliding with teammate Adrian Choat in a set-piece play.

While the Blues remained in the Land of the Rising Sun ahead of their second pre-season clash with Yokohama Canon Eagles – which they won 57-22 – Tuipulotu returned to New Zealand.

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With the Blues and Tuipulotu both expecting surgery, the original prognosis wasn’t great for the All Blacks lock. Tuipulotu was set to miss between eight to 10 weeks.

But the latest update will come as a relief to Blues fans, and potentially All Blacks supporters who expect Tuipulotu to be back in the mix under new coach Scott Robertson.

“Yeah not too bad. I don’t have to get surgery so good signs there. Hopefully another six to eight weeks,” Tuipulotu told reporters on Auckland. “Aiming to be back around (round) five, six.

“I had a broken arm last year, (but) before the season even starts and having a broken jaw is a bit frustrating.

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“I’ve got the resilience to be had during this time so if I keep myself busy enough around the team I should be okay.

“No strenuous activity but still light stuff. On the baby food with my little one,” he added.

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“I’ve broken the other side of my jaw pretty bad so I know what a proper break is like. This one is not too bad.”

It’s a cruel blow for Tuipulotu considering the circumstances of the year ahead. With All Blacks greats Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick retiring from international duty, Tuipulotu was among the leading candidates to step up into New Zealand’s second row.

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But, at least for now, steps towards a potential international return have been put on hold, although international honours remain at the top of his list.

“That’s certainly the goal this year as well as staying injury-free,” Tuipulotu said.

“I suppose there’s a silver lining in that it’s early on in the season still got a big year of rugby to go.”

With former boss Leon MacDonald leaving the Blues to take up an opportunity as part of the All Blacks’ new-look coaching staff, the Auckland-based franchise needed a new head coach.

Internationally-renowned coach Vern Cotter, who was previously in charge of the Flying Fijians, has stepped into the role on a two-year deal.

“Vern’s a bit old school but in saying that he’s got a good eye for things around the team.

“A lot of our forward work has been pretty good right through pre-season. He brings a good edge to that.

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“I’ve enjoyed pre-season and working with him up until now.

“Looking forward to round one. Obviously we’ve had two pre-season games in Japan which prepped us well – we had some good games there, obviously a few things to work on.

“I’m certainly looking forward to the start of the season.”

The Blues get their 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season underway against the ever-dangerous Fijian Drua at Okara Park, Whangarei, on February 24th.

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1 Comment
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Pecos 156 days ago

Powder Puff Paddy too soft.

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Shaylen 4 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 10 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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