Manu latest player to suffer rare chest injury
Highlanders co-captain Nasi Manu is the fifth Canterbury-based player to succumb to an unusual pectoral injury in the last eight months.
Manu, who suffered a small tear in his chest muscle while bench pressing weights in pre-season training with the Highlanders, may be in doubt for their opening game against the Blues in Dunedin on February 22.
The 25-year-old, joins lock Dominic Bird, hooker Codie Taylor, flanker Matt Todd and prop Sione Faletau, all Canterbury representatives, to be chopped down by pectoral muscle problems since May last year.
Such injuries are considered rare in rugby but Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder, who lost Bird and Taylor when they required surgery to repair ruptured muscles during the Super Rugby season, said the franchise hadn't made dramatic changes to their training programmes.
''No we haven't. But we have had more a running-based programme this year, just because of the way we feel the game has evolved. We are doing a lot of cross-fit stuff which is really good for overall strength and power.
''And we are still doing a lot of that (strength and power work) but it is more of a running-based programme which should serve us well.''
But the Crusaders and Canterbury management, no doubt concerned about the growing injury count, would be mindful of any need to change their programmes to prevent any more casualties.
This not only ensures their players' welfare remains paramount; it will also prevent their wage budget from ballooning if they are forced to pay for replacements.
Bird was hurt when his own scrum rolled back onto him against the Waratahs last May, ruling him out of the All Blacks series against France. Taylor suffered the same injury when making a regulation tackle in a club game for Sydenham.
Todd tore his muscle in Canterbury's NPC round-robin match against Wellington. Fringe prop Faletau was another to suffer the same problem and also required an operation.
Todd was expected to take around six months to heal from surgery but his quick recovery means he may be fit around four to six weeks ahead of schedule and could play the pre-season game against the Highlanders in Motueka on February 7.
Manu will be extremely frustrated by this latest injury. The No 8, who will co-captain the Highlanders with Ben Smith, suffered a serious foot problem in his side's first match against the Chiefs in Dunedin in February last year and didn't play again until he represented Canterbury in September.
Blackadder was confident the adjusted pre-season training programme would have positive results, noting five squad members had set personal bests in their fitness tests: ''It has shown in the results. The guys are a lot fitter.''