All Blacks centre back in action after lengthy stint on the sidelines due to horrific knee injury

Quinn Tupaea NZ v SA RC 2023 - Alamy.jpg Credit: Alamy

Quinn Tupaea NZ v SA RC 2023 – Alamy.jpg Credit: Alamy

After spending nearly a year on the sidelines due to a horrific knee injury, All Blacks and Chiefs centre Quinn Tupaea has made a tentative return to action.

Tupaea had a lengthy 10 month period of rehabilitation but played for 40 minutes in Waikato’s clash with Taranaki in their Chiefs Centurion Cup clash in Te Awamutu at the weekend.

The Chiefs Centurion Cup involves the Hamilton-based Super Rugby franchise’s four provincial unions – Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Counties Manukau and Taranaki – and matches were played on Saturday with the aim of providing valuable game-time to the four participating squads ahead of the National Provincial Championship (NPC) which kicks off on Friday, August 4.

Made a winning return to action

Counties Manukau were crowned Centurion Cup winners for the second successive year, but all eyes were on Tupaea who was back in action in Waikato’s 31-21 triumph over Taranaki.

“I was a little nervous about the game but pretty confident on how my knee would hold up,” he told Radio New Zealand. “Once I got out there and had my first carry and tackle, it came back pretty naturally.”

The 24-year-old was joined by fellow All Blacks Anton Lienert-Brown, Luke Jacobson and Samipeni Finau in the Waikato squad while Josh Lord (Taranaki) and Cam Roigard (Counties Manukau), who are also part of New Zealand’s current Rugby Championship squad, were in action as well and Tupaea said there was plenty of banter was involved “but it was good and a lot of fun.”

Tupaea was ruthlessly cleaned out at a ruck by Wallabies lock Darcy Swain during the first Bledisloe Cup Test of 2022 in Melbourne. The centre’s leg was forced inwards at the knee at an unnatural angle that injured both his ACL and MCL ligaments. Post-match scans revealed extensive damage and Tupaea had surgery, followed by 10 months of rehabilitation on the sidelines.

The dynamic centre revealed how difficult it was mentally during the rehabilitation process.

“Looking back it now it was was a tough thing to go through, but I got through it well,” he said. “I had a great support crew around me that helped me. I am pretty happy with my timing coming back, I was never in a rush to get back on a certain date.”

He said he is focused on Waikato’s upcoming NPC campaign and doing well for the team will be his main goal for the rest of the year.

“I’m looking forward to putting my best foot forward for the Waikato team and if anything comes from that it will be a positive, but I’m fully committed to doing a full season at Waikato,” added Tupaea.

Impressed by the All Blacks

After watching the last two All Black Tests, Tupaea said: “They have played very well and they are playing fast tempo games and really attacking that first 20 minutes.

“Their breakdown and ball carry is very good at the moment.

“It’s been awesome watching the Chiefs boys in there carving it up”.

The All Blacks are set to face the Wallabies in Melbourne on Saturday and Tupaea expects it to be a tough battle.

“It’s always a physical games no matter how both teams are going, it’s going to be a close one,” he said.

READ MORE: Five All Blacks released ahead of Bledisloe Cup clash with Australia

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