Rugby: Cane returns to action

By Kris Shannon

Sam Cane scored against the Blues - and picked up an injury. Photo / APN
Sam Cane scored against the Blues - and picked up an injury. Photo / APN

After spending the start of the season playing the "hopeless" role of spectator, Sam Cane is almost back in a position with which he's far more proficient.

In February Cane was unfortunate enough to suffer the bane of all athletes' existence - a pre-season injury - but he's now set for a return to action against the Force tomorrow night.

The flanker could hardly be more eager to burrow his way to the bottom of a ruck, given his discomfort in the last month.

Even with a knee injury suffered in a trial against the Blues, Cane found it difficult to put his feet up. The Chiefs won all three of their matches in his absence, storming their way to the top of the New Zealand conference, but Cane could barely watch.

"It's been frustrating. The first week I was hopeless against the Crusaders," Cane said.

"The last couple of weeks it's been good to see the boys get out there and score a few tries.

But it definitely grows that urge to try to get out there and join in yourself."

It would certainly be preferable to yet another session on the rower or the grinder, slaving away with the assistant trainer while his teammates take the field and continue the champions' winning ways.

That scenario wasn't exactly how Cane would have envisaged the opening weeks of his campaign but, now he's reached the light at the end of the tunnel, the 22-year-old can see the bright side of his hiatus.

Given the rugby calendar is stretching further - and with Cane set to play a prominent part in the June internationals against England - a late start to the campaign could be beneficial.

"If you get an injury you have to sit back and get any positives out of it that you can," Cane said.

"If there were any positives, it's that it's a long season.

"You see guys these days taking a few weeks off at the start of the year, or being introduced to Super Rugby a little bit later.

"If I look at the big scale, it's probably not too bad a thing."

Cane will start against the Force but his regular role, as usual with the Chiefs, remains in flux, continuing a job share with Tanerau Latimer.

During last year's successful season, the pair were carefully managed - Cane playing 961 minutes in 17 games and Latimer featuring for 965 minutes across 18 fixtures.

Coach Dave Rennie expected a similar double output this season.

"We're very fortunate to have high quality people in the No7 jersey," Rennie said.

"Lats has done a great job and Sam's a great player as well. It just gives us more depth in that position and gives us the opportunity to play them both side by side in six and seven. It opens up more options for us."

Whatever option is preferred during the Chiefs' three-match road trip, Cane says he's pleased just to make the plane.

"I've got to set realistic goals for myself. The first one will be to get out on the paddock and we'll just go from there.

"A bit of an injury like that only grows that hunger and makes you that much more excited to get out there."

Chiefs team to play the Force on Saturday night.
1. Jamie Mackintosh
2. Mahonri Schwalger
3. Ben Tameifuna
4. Michael Fitzgerald
5. Brodie Retallick
6. Liam Messam
7. Sam Cane
8. Liam Squire
9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow
10. Aaron Cruden ©
11. Asaeli Tikoirotuma
12. Tom Marshall
13. Tim Nanai-Williams
14. Mils Muliaina
15. Gareth Anscombe
16. Rhys Marshall
17. Pauliasi Manu
18. Josh Hohneck
19. Kane Thompson
20. Tanerau Latimer
21. Augustine Pulu
22. Andrew Horrell
23. Anton Lienert-Brown

- APNZ

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