Fia gears up for pre-season slog despite injury

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 12:01 06/12/2012

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Despite being injured, Turbos prop Ma'afu Fia won't escape the hard yards at the Highlanders.

Coach Jamie Joseph usually puts the players through heavy training in the weeks before Christmas and Fia expects more of the same.

Despite a broken scaphoid bone, he was crossing Cook Strait yesterday en route to his Super Rugby retreat in Dunedin. Fia injured the bone in his wrist when he played in Manawatu's best game of the season, the 33-20 win over Northland at Whangarei.

"I got cleaned out in a ruck and fell backwards," he recalled. "I didn't think much of it."

When he fell he used his left hand to brace himself. The soreness didn't go away so when the season finished he thought he should get it X-rayed.

That was when the bone was found to be broken. He underwent surgery and a screw was put in to hold everything in place.

Fia was told it would take about eight weeks to heal and that was five weeks ago.

He has been able to run, bike and do "one-handed stuff" in the gym.

He knows that being able to run won't excuse him from Joseph's commando training.

Fia started nine of the Manawatu Turbos' 10 games this year.

Eleven provincial unions have asked the New Zealand Rugby Union to scrap midweek NPC matches and extend the competition by a fortnight.

While Canterbury, Auckland and Wellington want to retain the current format, in which midweek games are an unpopular feature, the remaining provinces have advised the NZRU they want change.

Instead of being forced to host week-day matches they have requested the competition be extended to 12 weeks. This requires starting a week earlier and finishing a week later.

Tasman chief executive Andrew Flexman said his province was "unreservedly" in favour of change. "We have probably lost money hosting games. Either it changes or maybe the NZRU's grants need to be increased because we are a significant contributor to the broadcasting deal. We need to be staunch, collectively, on this one."

Several coaches say the compacted season has a detrimental effect because players cannot recover from injuries.

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- Manawatu Standard

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