After being in tournament mode non-stop for the past few years, Michaela Blyde had to listen to her body.
Suffering a stress reaction in her left tibia last October in the first stop of the 2019/20 World Series sevens in Glendale, USA, the 24-year-old had to take some time to recover.
A common injury with runners, a stress reaction is a precursor to a stress fracture. At the reaction stage, the bone is beginning to break down and becoming weaker without cracking.
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Early in the season and heading into an Olympic Games year, Blyde made the decision to take the time to ensure she was back to 100 per cent before competing again, and ruled out any chance of playing in the Dubai and Cape Town stops.
"I had been in rehab mode for like a month before the team was named," Blyde told the Herald.
"For me, with Bunts [coach Allan Buntling] and I, we have a really good relationship, so he knew that I just needed to be able to look after my body. It was just a positive mindset for me going into rehab because I didn't have that disappointment or anything so I could prepare well before Dubai and Cape Town to just go into rehab mode.
"The management understood that and knew what I needed to do so we had good communication there.
"For me, it was just about getting my body right ... It was nice to stay at home and focus on myself a bit more."
Blyde wasn't the only one to miss the Dubai and Cape Town stops, with Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Hirini also missing the events due to injury. Unlike Blyde, Hirini didn't have the luxury of mentally preparing to miss the tournaments, being ruled out close to the squad being named.
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The pair return to the side this weekend at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton for the first women's World Series event on home soil.
Speaking of her impending return, Blyde said she was back to full fitness and itching to get out on the paddock.
"The body's been good and the injury's gone, so it's good."
While Blyde and Hirini were sidelined, the Black Ferns Sevens called on some of the country's young talent and saw veterans step up to win two gold medals from two tournaments to sit at the top of the standings after three World Series stops. "I definitely was in a good mindset and it was amazing to watch the girls bring back two gold medals," Blyde said.
"It was extremely nerve-wracking and I don't want to be in that position ever again but it was amazing to see them step up.
"It just go to show we've got good depth in our squad and we've definitely got a bright future with some of our young girls which brings a lot of positives."