All Blacks still the goal as Havili recovers from latest injury

Crusaders and All Blacks midfielder David Havili leaves the pitch with a hamstring injury suffered against the Waratahs..

Midfielder David Havili, sidelined for at least another six weeks due to a hamstring injury suffered while playing for the Crusaders, hopes to return to the game with Tasman and hasn’t given up hope of playing for the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship.

Havili this morning described the feeling of tearing his hamstring late in the 42-18 victory over the Waratahs in Christchurch on May 27, saying: “I’d never felt that before. I tried to run on it… but there was nothing there. I’m pretty disappointed and frustrated. It has been an injury-ridden year for me.”

The injury has ruled Havili out of the Super Rugby Pacific playoffs, which start for the Crusaders with a quarter-final against the Fijian Drua at Orangetheory Stadium on Saturday.

“It’s still in the healing process and there are still big bits of bruising coming out,” he said. “It’s generally six to eight weeks. You get back to 80% pretty quickly and then it’s a matter of getting that final 20% of high speed back.”

Havili, 28, who has played 25 Tests for the All Blacks, acknowledged he wanted to return in time for selection for the World Cup and said he could be a chance for the Rugby Championship which starts on July 9 with a Test against Argentina in Mendoza and finishes with a Test against the Wallabies in Melbourne on July 29.

The All Blacks also play a Bledisloe Cup match against Australia in Dunedin on August 5 before playing a World Cup warm-up Test against the Springboks at Twickenham on August 26.

Jordie Barrett and Rieko Ioane are likely to be Ian Foster's preferred midfield partnership for the Rugby Championship, but Havili could play an important support role and is equally adept at fullback.

In a similar position to Havili is Blues lock Patrick Tuipulotu, who broke an arm during the victory over the Highlanders at Eden Park at the weekend.

Tuipulotu is out for six weeks but could return for the latter part of the Rugby Championship.

Meanwhile, the Crusaders will be hoping for positive news on lock Sam Whitelock, who withdrew from his team’s 27-26 defeat to the Hurricanes in Wellington at halftime due to an Achilles issue.

Sam Whitelock in action for the Crusaders against the Waratahs recently.

A week earlier, Whitelock looked in top form over 80 minutes after returning from a similar issue and Scott Robertson, in his final weeks as Crusaders coach before he takes over at the All Blacks at the end of the year, will be hoping one of his top leaders will be available during that time.

The Crusaders lost halfback Mitch Drummond before kick-off at Sky Stadium but are likely to get Willi Heinz back this week, along with bruising loose forward Ethan Blackadder, who has been out with a calf complaint.

The defending champions have been hit hard by injury this season, with front rowers George Bower, Fletcher Newell and Joe Moody suffering long-term injuries and wing Sevu Reece out for the rest of the year with a knee injury.

Meanwhile, Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge confirmed the announcement of Rob Penney as Robertson's successor on an initial two-year contract was made this morning to "end speculation" ahead of the finals.


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