Comeback kid happy to be back in black

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 02/06/2014
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VICTOR VITO: The return of the All Blacks loose forward is the only good news for the Wellington Lions.

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Victor Vito is hoping the Hurricanes can follow his lead and make the Super Rugby playoffs.

The 27-year-old was the comeback kid in the 31-man All Blacks squad named yesterday for a three-test series against England.

It made for a bitter-sweet moment in the changing rooms at Eden Park following the Hurricanes 37-24 loss to the Blues.

When team manager Tony Ward stood up to read out the names of those who had made the All Black, Vito was still trying to work out why the Hurricanes had been so flat in a match they desperately wanted and needed to win. "It's been a bit of a roller-coaster two days," he said yesterday. "It was pretty gutting to lose that way. We knew they were going to be a tough opposition but we were a bit flat and I think we just left it too late to start playing, and they got the result.

"So yeah, going into the changing rooms and finding out I made the ABs was a nice bit of relief, but a little bitter-sweet."

Vito's recall to the All Blacks comes nearly a year after he was unceremoniously dumped following a lacklustre performance against France in New Plymouth.

He has spent a decent chunk of that time mulling why he was unable to nail down a spot in the national squad over a 22-test career dating back to his debut against Ireland in 2010.

His conclusion was he was over-thinking his rugby and trying to do too much rather than just getting on with his job.

"It's yet to be seen whether I've made any progress, I guess. I certainly do believe I've changed but I think I might have said that before and the same things happened with the black jersey.

"I'm wise enough to know what to do and every day I will keep working at it to make sure I'm in the right head space and don't get into that frame . . . I know sometimes I want to do too much, and really all you really need to do is your job in an outfit like the All Blacks."

Vito's form has been superb since a late start to Super Rugby because of a knee injury that had him put on a few extra kilograms in the gym. He will put Super Rugby out of his mind for the next month but was adamant the Hurricanes could still qualify for the playoffs with bonus-point wins over the Crusaders in Wellington and Chiefs in Hamilton.

A bonus point for scoring four tries against the Blues means they are alone in sixth place on the table but are hamstrung by a bye in the final round.

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"For us, we still believe winning those games can get us through. You look at how close the teams are and how the table looks after each win and loss. Teams are knocking each other out left, right and centre, so it's too early to count ourselves out just yet."

The Hurricanes squad will have a week off before preparing for a training match in Palmerston North where they will play 40 minutes each against Manawatu and Hawke's Bay on June 18.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes have signed Melbourne Rebels fullback Jason Woodward for two years from 2015.

- The Dominion Post

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