Taranaki fullback Kurt Baker hopes to be back in the national sevens squad for next month's final IRB tournaments after a frustrating start to 2013.
Baker tore a hamstring at the Wellington sevens tournament in February, sidelining him from not only the national side but also the Crusaders' wider training group.
Then, not long after he started his rehabilitation, he discovered he had also torn his calf muscle.
"I was in a pretty bad patch for a while," he said yesterday.
"It just felt like I was having no luck but I've just started running again this week and I've got sevens camp starting next Tuesday."
With the prognosis not great on either injury a couple of months ago, Baker got together with New Zealand sevens coach Gordon Tietjens and Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder, with the trio unanimous in their opinion that he should take himself away and have a break.
Baker decided to head home to his parents' place in Palmerston North where he has done most of the rehabilitation work alone, often at an empty park.
"It's been good and hopefully I've still got a busy schedule ahead with sevens and the opportunity with them [Crusaders] was probably getting smaller anyway. It was a bit disappointing having to leave them, because I was really enjoying it there and I think they were enjoying me there, but sevens is probably my first priority at this stage."
New Zealand hold a 32-point lead in the IRB sevens standings over South Africa and could wrap up the series in Scotland.
Despite only playing in Australia, Dubai, South Africa and part of the Wellington tournament, Baker sits third on the New Zealand tryscoring list for the season with 16, emphasising his importance to Tietjens' cause.
While the two remaining tournaments in the series are high on Baker's wishlist, the IRB Sevens World Cup in Moscow in June is a tournament he is desperate to be fit for.
He also hopes to play some club rugby in Taranaki, although that will depend on Tietjens giving him a clearance, something the sevens guru has tended not to do in the past couple of years if Kylem O'Donnell and Warwick Lahmert are any example.
- © Fairfax NZ News