Classy centre Conrad Smith says top players will struggle to be fully ready for the start of the Super 14 until the rugby season is cut to a more realistic length.
Toby Robson writes in The Dominion Post that a frustrated Smith is likely to miss the Hurricanes’ season opener against the Waratahs because of a lingering groin strain that has sidelined him since the end of the All Blacks tour last November.
Though he has had a two-month break, Smith said it was difficult to refresh mentally, recover from injuries, get fit and then prepare for a competition as tough as the Super 14 in that space of time.
“The length the seasons are now you will miss a few weeks anyway, if not through injury then just because you have to take a rest anyway at some stage,” he said after Hurricanes training.
“I don’t like it that way, but it’s just a reality of the season. We either have a shortened season and that upsets people because we have to get rid of some games somewhere, or else we have a season like we have now, where you have weeks where guys just aren’t able to play.”
Smith isn’t the only Hurricane hitting the season with a less than ideal preparation.
Captain and No 8 Rodney So’oialo has had just 40 minutes’ action in the preseason and prop Neemia Tialata 60 minutes.
“I don’t know which way it’s going to go, but I think most people want a shorter season,” Smith said. “The comparable sports have much longer off- seasons than us.
“I think they [the NFL] have it about right with the length of their season, but they’ve had 40 years of being a professional sport, so we are getting there.”
Though he would prefer to be fully fit and starting this week, Smith said he had been around long enough not to get down about his injuries. He did not think his absence would damage the Hurricanes’ chances this week.
“If I’m playing at 80 per cent I’m not going to be anywhere near as good as whoever’s replacing me if they’re 100 per cent and have played in the pre- season games,” he said. “It’s good for the squad to have them playing. They will play better and they’ve prepared better. It’s something I think you will find more and more with such a long season, that you have to rely on the whole squad.
“It’s not to the detriment of the team, it actually helps the team.”
Smith said he had picked up the injury during last year’s Tri-Nations. Known as osteitis pubis, and common among top Australian Rules players, it was important to give it the correct time to heal before returning to action, he said.
While the Waratahs named their side yesterday, Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper will wait till tomorrow to announce his squad.Tweet