Grim injury news for Isaia Toeava and Blues
Blues and All Blacks fullback Isaia Toeava could be out of rugby for the rest of the year.
The grim news was delivered by Blues team doctor Stephen Kara today, who said Toeava still hadn't recovered from the stress fracture to his hip, an injury that had blighted the last two years of his career.
With Jerome Kaino already gone for the season with a shoulder injury and the team getting off to a disappointing start, the last thing Blues coach Pat Lam needed was to lose another experienced All Black, especially one who started the season in such good form.
Kara said he didn't know when Toeava would play again, but suggested it wouldn't be until 2013 if he underwent another operation.
"I can't give you an exact date, but what I do know is that Ice [Toeava] has had a complex problem in his right hip for some time and between ourselves and the All Blacks medical staff we've been trying to nut this out for some time," Kara said.
"At the moment he's got two different pathologies, the main problem is a stress fracture in the posterior part of his right hip.
"The imaging he had when he got back from South Africa showed that still to be there and is bigger.
"It is my suspicion that it has not healed since May of last year. He played through the Rugby World Cup with some pain and some pain killers.
"Then he had a two-month rest and when he's resting he doesn't get any pain at all. He returned to training with us and then the pain started to come back on.
Kara said there was a challenging decision to be made over whether to operate.
"We're going to sit down with a specialist at the end of the week and one of those options is surgery and he could be looking at some time out of the game. If the surgical path is taken it could be six months."
Kara said that even if Toeava did have an operation, it wasn't certain that it would be successful.
"The fact that it hasn't healed to date makes him at risk further on and even if he had surgery as the form of treatment we're still not guaranteed that it will heal itself at all."
The Blues have had a dreadful run of injuries this season, with Lam saying it was the worst he had experienced as a coach.
Out for at least Friday's game against the Hurricanes are Kaino, Toeava, Keven Mealamu, George Moala and Anthony Boric.
Asked if the injury toll was because of the high demands on a player's body in the modern game, Kara said most of the injuries were unusual ones.
"Ice's stress fracture is rare, there isn't a large case history anywhere in the world of the type of stress fracture he has, so that's really bad luck," he said.
"Jerome has had his shoulder issue for the last three seasons and he's been hanging in there.
"He got unlucky and got a blow which knocked off a bit of bone and made his shoulder more unstable and necessitated him having surgery.
"Anthony has got a disc herniation in his neck which has been there for some time and was exacerbated in the Bulls game, but that seems to be settling down nicely.
"It's not going to go away but it is manageable, the plan is to repeat the scan next week and we'd hope to have him back for the Rebels and certainly the Sharks.
"Keven has a low grade calf strain which is recurring for him and he'll miss one week."