Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Joker Jane serious over return for All Blacks

Cory Jane in action for the Hurricanes. Photo / AP.
Cory Jane in action for the Hurricanes. Photo / AP.

If All Black wing Cory Jane's humour is any guide, he is back sharper than ever after his injury-enforced time out.

Jane endured a long layoff after suffering a serious ankle sprain while playing for the Hurricanes; an injury that ruled him out of the three tests against Ireland in June.

Now that he is back fully fit and refreshed, he is a near-certainty to start on the right wing for the All Blacks in their first Rugby Championship assignment against Australia in Sydney next Saturday.

After explaining how he put his recent break to good use - "It's good and bad. It's bad not being in the All Black environment but obviously good that you're out of the rugby side of things and you can use the time to get better. Hopefully I'll come out of it in better shape" - the wisecracks began, suggesting he is in fair form off the field anyway.

A recent "yo-yo" fitness test (a tortuous shuttle run which increases in intensity) resulted in a personal best and a joke that he finished flat out on a gurney being taken to hospital.

Jane's inclusion in the squad means Zac Guildford has dropped out. Richard Kahui's shoulder problem, which ruled him out of the Ireland tests, allowing Julian Savea to shine on debut at Eden Park, continues, which means Savea is the leading contender for the left wing.

The competition for places was important, said 29-year-old Jane.

"I've had it in the past where I've started on the wing and you sort of take it for granted and then all of a sudden you're not in the team and you've got a boot in the arse having those guys around to push you every time you go out to play or the training field. You have to do well because you can be gone just like that."

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