Tasman boss confident injured Highlander Shane Christie will be fit for NPC
If Dane Coles' injury is puzzling, Highlanders flanker Shane Christie's is baffling.
Christie hasn't played a single game of Super Rugby this year, and the Highlanders haven't clarified what is wrong with last year's co-captain since coach Tony Brown told media they were trying to get to the bottom of it in February.
Brown indicated an answer to Christie's "mystery illness" might be forthcoming a few weeks ago, but Highlanders fans continue to see his name feature on the injury list without an explanation.
On Tuesday, Highlanders assistant coach Mark Hammett didn't have an update on Christie, despite the loose forward recently telling Tasman Rugby Union chief executive Tony Lewis he was "very confident" of being fit for this year's Mitre 10 Cup.
Only Coles' injury - the Hurricanes confirmed the hooker was suffering from concussion symptoms earlier this month - compares in terms of the unknown.
The All Black rake damaged knee ligaments in round four against the Highlanders, tweaked a calf during training and then started suffering exercise-induced headaches. The Hurricanes have no idea where the symptoms came from and he still hasn't played since March 18.
Christie, who has had his fair share of injuries since joining the Highlanders in 2014, told Stuff he would speak to media when the Highlanders release details on what's keeping him off the paddock.
Lewis said he was regularly in touch with Christie, who captained Tasman against Canterbury in last year's national provincial championship (NPC) final, but only had limited information on his injury.
"All we know is that he's not fit to play at the moment against the protocols to make sure he's fit to play. When that's done, he'll obviously play. And if it's not done, he'll come back to us and we'll go through the same protocols," he said.
'"We haven't done any testing on him, we don't know anything. It all sits with the Highlanders.
"Unless it's a bone injury, something you can see in a match, we tend to keep out of that space because they've got highly qualified medical teams and we just keep out of it."
Alongside Liam Squire (thumb), James Lentjes (elbow), Dan Pryor (knee) and Luke Whitelock (calf), Christie is one of five injured Highlanders loose forwards.
It appears Sherlock Holmes wouldn't even be able to shed any light on whether or not Christie fronts in this year's Super Rugby season, but Lewis expects his premier fetcher to be fit in time for this year's NPC, which kicks off on August 17.
"As a general rule, we find that with Super teams and players coming back the realities of where players are at and where they actually are physically can be a fair way apart," Lewis said.
"A couple of years ago, we had Liam Squire not right and when he got back down here he was playing within two weeks.
"What we tend to do is keep in contact with them, talk to them and don't make any rash decisions around contracting or, even more importantly, rash decisions about their medical welfare until we've got them underneath our roof."
Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.