The Blues are holding off on a decision about whether injured utility back Isa Nacewa is fit for a return to Super 14 action, though the man himself has hinted the call might err on the side of caution.
Nacewa told www.RugbyHeaven.co.nz that he didn’t want to rush the return to action if there was any doubt in his mind at all about the knee he badly injured in the round three match against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
And though the timing would be perfect should the outstanding fullback return this week, considering the shock announcement that wing Joe Rokocoko is lost for the rest of the season with wrist problems, Nacewa indicated the looming bye could figure in the decision.
“I’ve been so frustrated sitting round not being in the team,” he declared. “Mentally I just want to get out there and play. But the doc and the medical staff will be wary this week of not pushing me too hard and come Wednesday is probably when we’ll make a decision on whether I’m fit enough to play.”
The 25-year-old who is capable of playing anywhere in the backline from first five to fullback said the problem knee is all but fully recovered and it was only a matter of testing it out this week on the training paddock under duress.
“My medial ligament a lot stronger, and strength wise I’ve built up my quad which is what the medical staff wanted me to do. It’s feeling a lot more stable and agility wise it’s good too. So it’s going pretty well.”
Nacewa, who would probably be an All Black by now but for his “minute of madness” as a late callup for Fiji at the 2003 World Cup, said he wasn’t feeling any pressure despite the defection of Rokocoko this week.
“No one’s pushing me, the coaches haven’t put any pressure on me either. I guess I’ll just see how I go in the contact drills at the end of trainings each day.
“The likes of Benson Stanley and Anthony Tuitavake are playing such good rugby. Losing Roks is a big call but we’ve got enough experience there to keep it going.”
Given that the Blues have lost three of the five matches they’ve had since Nacewa went down and badly missed his creativity, calmness and sure set of hands at the back, it’s worth asking just how frustrating it’s been watching it all?
“I can’t stand watching footy,” he declares. “You’re sitting up in the stand each game not really knowing what to say or do. I’ve never been that good watching rugby, so I just want to be out there playing.”
But that was when Nacewa dropped a strong hint that there will be no risks taken this week with the extremely beatable ACT Brumbies visiting Eden Park for the Saturday night matchup.
“It’s always tough when you have a bye the following week. We don’t like to think ahead, but if I didn’t play I’d have an extra two weeks to get it a lot better than where it would be.”
That will be part of the decision coach David Nucifora will have to mull over. How desperately do his struggling team need their inspirational fullback? Would it be better to take the cautious approach and give him the extra fortnight and be sure?
Can the Blues, in this form, even see off the Brumbies safely?
The answer is their chances would be a lot better with Nacewa there.
Not only does he provide a more balanced feel to the match 22 with his ability to cover so many positions, but he’s an X-factor player that the Blues have desperately missed in recent weeks.
In a week when they’ve lost their greatest strike weapon, it will be interesting to see what the Blues decide to do about arguably their most creative back.Tweet