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'Pretty daunting': Tupaea discusses impending road to recovery

By Ned Lester
Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Quinn Tupaea has spoken publicly for the first time since Bledisloe 1 which saw him sustain a season ending knee injury in a dangerous clear-out from Darcy Swain.

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The injury was this week confirmed as an ACL tear, putting Tupaea’s recovery timeline at nine months.

The timing will give the All Blacks midfielder a chance to return to the field prior to next years World Cup, but Tupaea acknowledges selection for the World Cup squad is a tall order.

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“I’d love to back within the nine months,” Tupaea told Jason Pine on Newstalk ZB.

“Play a bit of rugby and see if can put my best foot forward,

“If I’m fit and healthy and playing some good rugby then its always a possibility but you’ve got to earn your spot every year and especially in a World Cup year, it’s not going to be an easy task.

“It’s going to be a massive challenge for myself, 9 months is a long time.

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“But, it gives me a few months of rugby next year with the Mooloos hopefully, and then give myself the best chance of making the World Cup squad, it’s a massive motivator for myself.”

The road to recovery starts next week and Tupaea anticipates it will be just as demanding mentally as it will physically.

“I go under the knife next Friday, I’m pretty lucky they got me in pretty quick.

“I’ll be in a brace for six weeks or something, but be moving the whole time.

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“I got the news on Monday or Tuesday, so I’ve had a few days to process it and yeah, it’s been pretty tough but I think I’m coming through the other side here.

“I’ve got a real good support group around me, I’ve got my partner and my family live just down the road so I think I’m gonna be good.

“I’ve got Birdy and Walshy with the chiefs and All Blacks, our mental skills guys so I think that’ll be very important for the next nine months as well because I’m guessing there’s going to be so some pretty tough times.

“Especially over the summer break, I don’t think I’m allowed to go swimming in December and January in wavy water, or walk on sand.

“So it’s going to be tough, those things mentally and just staring down the barrel of a nine month injury is already pretty daunting.”

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As for the play itself, Tupaea recalled what was going through his mind at the time.

“We made a pretty good break out of our 22, I think it was Caleb Clarke, I went to clean the ruck and got cleaned out, got up and then went to jackle,

“I thought I’d won a penalty, heard the whistle go and then I just felt a bit of force hit my knee from the side. I’ve done my MCL before so I sort of knew what it felt like and that’s what it felt like initially.. I just knew straight away.

“It actually hurt quite a bit and when I got up to test it myself, my knee just sort of collapsed inwards, and that’s what happened the first time I did it so I thought it was MCL,

“I hadn’t done my ACL before so I wasn’t sure what it felt like, I thought it was just my MCL at first and that’s what the scan showed at first as well.

“My MCL, I managed to get back to playing within 5 weeks so 9 months is going to be a long time for me.”

Tupaea admitted the timing of the injury is unfortunate, not just because of his World Cup ambitions but also because he was starting to find his rhythm on the international stage.

“I was starting to feel a lot more comfortable, I played seven of the eight games and it was awesome to feel involved every week and even coming off the bench was cool… this injury’s come at a niggly time, I was starting to feel good in there so it’s a bit of shame that I’m gonna be out for a while.”

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