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New Zealand sevens star nears return after ‘really tough’ two-year journey

By Finn Morton
Andrew Knewstubb of Team New Zealand offloads on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium on July 26, 2021 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

The road back to the SVNS Series has been long, tough and eventful for Andrew Knewstubb, but finally, after two years away, the New Zealander is on the brink of a return.

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Knewstubb, 28, suffered two devastating ACL ruptures, and an infection two weeks after his most recent knee operation saw him return to hospital.

As the 100+ game sevens veteran told New Zealand’s 1News last April, the second ACL injury was enough for him to question whether he was “ever going to be able to play rugby again.”

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Sam Dickson talks to RugbyPass about the All Blacks Sevens early exit | Perth SVNS

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Sam Dickson talks to RugbyPass about the All Blacks Sevens early exit | Perth SVNS

But Knewstubb, who Sam Dickson told RugbyPass took out the All Blacks Sevens’ Bronco with a time of 4:11, has been back training with his New Zealand teammates.

As reported by Newshub’s Ollie Ritchie, Knewstubb is “now in line” for a return with the All Blacks Sevens.

“The injury stuff has been really tough,’” Knewstubb told Newshub. “It just seems that when it rains it pours… like everything is going wrong.

“Every day just felt like a test, and every day I’ve just tried to answer that test and get through the test,” Knewstubb added.

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“It’s taken a toll back home.

“I get home and my little dog is looking at me and wanting to go for a walk, and I’m like, ‘Come on, give me a chance to recover.’”

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With the Olympic Games in Paris just over five months away, New Zealand has a bit of unfinished business after falling agonisingly short of gold in Tokyo three years ago.

New Zealand beat Argentina and Australia in pool play to move through to the quarter-finals and further wins over Canada and Great Britain saw them book their place in the gold medal match.

Fiji were waiting for them in the decider. Unfortunately for the Kiwis, their traditional sevens rivals were just too good as they won the match 27-12 at Tokyo Stadium.

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“Losing in the final hit me hard, so I want to redeem that and go out and win gold,” he said.

All Black Cam Roigard stole the show in a brief two-day camp last month by ‘winning’ the pre-season 1.2km Bronco with a staggering time of 4 minutes and 12 seconds.

The Bronco tasks athletes with a gruelling fitness test. They must run 20, 40 and 60m five times each without stopping.

Roigard’s staggering Bronco time seemed nigh on impossible to beat – but New Zealand sevens veteran Sam Dickson revealed otherwise.

After walking off the field at HBF Park on day three at SVNS Perth late last month, Dickson revealed that Knewstubb may actually hold the quickest time.

“That’s pretty sharp from Cam Roigard,” Dickson told RugbyPass in Perth. “He’s got a motor on him.

“Andrew Knewstubb, he’s our little rabbit. He’d run, I think 4.11 as well to be honest not too long ago. He’s coming back from an ACL, back-to-back ACL (injuries). He’s pretty fit at the moment.

“Most of us big forwards are about 4.30, just under, just over. Got a couple in the fives but they’re more power athletes than endurance.”

The SVNS Series heads to North America later this month with stops in Vancouver and LA. The SVNS LA is from March 1 to 3 and tickets can be bought HERE.

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