Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara is expected back in Wellington by the weekend, after having surgery in Brisbane on Saturday.
The boom 20-year-old fractured his left ankle in the 78th minute of the Hurricanes' "friendly" match against the Reds, on the Sunshine Coast, last Friday and now faces up to six months on the sideline.
Perenara came off the bench in the 36-7 victory and sustained the injury while scoring the last of the Hurricanes six tries.
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett said he was disappointed for Perenara, but quickly added that the show had to go on. He also dismissed any suggestion that losing his star halfback was made any more frustrating by the fact that his fracture came in a nothing game.
Because of the cessation in Super Rugby hostilities, caused by the June tours by northern hemisphere teams, Hammett said his players needed to be involved in something more worthwhile than club rugby.
"No, not at all and, in fact, we'll certainly look at trying to do something [similar] next year. Yeah, no regrets at all," he said yesterday.
"These guys are footballers and you've got to play football and to come out of here with no injuries would be outstanding, but it's not the reality of rugby. We feel for TJ but he'll come back in time.
"He's only 20 years old and he's probably going to miss one ITM [Cup] campaign, but he'll come back before we know it and this will just be a blip."
Hammett hadn't seen Perenara since the halfback was taken to hospital, but the pair had spoken on the phone and were positive about the prognosis.
"I can remember [Hurricanes back] Charlie Ngatai had a similar operation and he was back in four months, but these things are dependent on how quickly the body recovers. One thing that's certain is that TJ works his butt off [and] he was already speaking to me last night and saying he can't wait to get on with the recovery process," Hammett said.
The coach said Perenara had some family members with him in Brisbane and his partner was flying over too. In his absence, Frae Wilson becomes a fully fledged member of the squad, with Chris Eaton to take over as the starting halfback.
The Hurricanes resume their campaign with a clash against the Crusaders on June 30 and Hammett said he was confident Eaton had the experience and ability to capably guide the team around the park.
Perenara's injury is the second setback to hit the team in the past week after All Blacks loose forward Victor Vito was ruled out for three to five weeks with knee ligament damage.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Should there be golden point extra time in Super Rugby?Related story: (See story)