Rugby: All Blacks hooker targets April return

Nathan Harris. Photo / Getty
Nathan Harris. Photo / Getty

All Blacks hooker Nathan Harris is targeting an April return to competitive rugby after tearing his ACL last year.

The 24-year-old Harris has endured a horror run of early-career injuries, having suffered a broken ankle in 2014 and a concussion with the Chiefs in early 2016.

After recovering from that head knock and being named in the All Blacks' Rugby Championship squad, he then tore his ACL in a training session in August.

Set a recovery period of six to nine months, Harris told reporters on Tuesday he was on track to return to Super Rugby action in around April.

That period corresponds with the Chiefs' Super Rugby fixtures in South Africa, where they will play the Stormers and Cheetahs in consecutive weeks.

Returning to the All Blacks fold in time for the mid-year British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand would be the next goal.

"It's obviously in the back of my mind, in the forefront it's about running and doing that sort of stuff," the four-cap Harris said.

"My feet are starting to itch."

Having been forced out of the game for so long, Harris said he'd resorted to fishing, diving, studying and rugby coaching to pass free time.

He felt his role as mentor for a precocious Chiefs squad could help pave the way for the franchise's third Super Rugby title in 2017.

That would be especially important given the long-term injuries sustained by Brad Weber and Mitchell Graham in last week's Brisbane Tens triumph.

"Being a good team member for the boys who are new or coming up through the ranks, lending them a helping hand," Harris said.

"I knew what it was like to come into an environment, so just helping and guiding."

- AAP

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