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Rugby News: Tahs' next goal after 'big emotional weight' lifted, AB legend's career call, Crusader off to Saracens

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2nd April, 2024
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Waratahs’ Will Harrison says he has an itch to play for the Wallabies now he’s back from a 92-week rehabilitation from multiple knee injuries.

“It’s a goal is a goal of mine that I haven’t quite ticked off. I’ve had a little itch there with been being in the squad back in 2020,” Harrison told reporters after making his return after a 707 day absence in the loss to the Rebels last weekend.

“The loss took its toll on me,” Harrison added. “Coming back, and then to have a performance like that and to not get the win, was tough.

Will Harrison of the Waratahs makes a break during the round six Super Rugby Pacific match between NSW Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels at Allianz Stadium, on March 29, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Will Harrison of the Waratahs makes a break during the round six Super Rugby Pacific match between NSW Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

“I probably struggled to see the light but 24 hours post-game … reflecting on the journey, I think I smelt the roses a bit and realised the achievement itself of getting back there.”

Harrison’s career was looking promising before he suffered ACL, MCL and patella tendon injuries, and he detailed the difficulties he faced during the long recovery.

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“I remember my first rehab with my patella tendon, I had no function. I couldn’t lift my leg up by myself,” Harrison said. “If I wanted to get out of bed, I had to get someone to come in and lift me out of bed. If I wanted to have a shower, I needed someone to shower me.

“If I wanted to get my [urine] bottle emptied, someone would have to empty it for me. Being that disabled, that’s what put things in perspective. There were some dark times in that initial rehab. I had some nights there I couldn’t sleep and I felt bad asking my parents to get up.”

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Harrison, who had an estimated 603 physio sessions during his injury trauma, returned from the bench against the Rebels.

“It’s a big emotional weight off my shoulders,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to getting week in, week out footy in the sky blue and digging my heels in with the boys.

“It’s changed who I am as a person for sure. I got a lot of perspective in rehab. I had some really dark days and to find my way out of them I think is a skill that I’ll use not just in football but in life in general.”

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Roigard out for rest of season

All Blacks and Hurricanes halfback Cam Roigard will be sidelined for at least six months after having knee surgery – ruling him out of the rest of Super Rugby and the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship campaign.

Roigard ruptured his left patella tendon during the Hurricanes’ win over the Highlanders last weekend.

The Hurricanes announced on Wednesday that the 23-year-old “underwent successful surgery in Auckland to repair his injury”.

“Provided all goes well with his rehabilitation he could be back as soon as six months from now.

“The Hurricanes are thankful for all the support and kind messages being sent Cam’s way.”

Cam Roigard of the Hurricanes leaves the field of play after sustaining an injury during the round six Super Rugby Pacific match between Highlanders and Hurricanes at Forsyth Barr Stadium, on March 30, 2024, in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Cam Roigard of the Hurricanes leaves the field of play after sustaining an injury during the round six Super Rugby Pacific match between Highlanders and Hurricanes at Forsyth Barr Stadium. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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Roigard said the called the injury “a bump in the road” and wrote: “The highs and lows of footy. Surgery went well and looking forward to getting into some rehab. Back soon”.

Roigard broke into the All Blacks last season and went to the World Cup. His absence means an increased role for TJ Perenara and will also raise the chances of the veteran returning to the national team.

Whitelock snuffs out return hopes

All Black great Sam Whitelock has announced he’s retiring at the end of the French season, closing the door on speculation of an All Blacks return.

Whitelock, 35, played the last of his 153 Tests for the All Blacks in the World Cup final. He then left to play for Pau in France and but was linked with a potential return to the national side.

“I’ve been having a few conversations with my wife Hannah and the kids around what the future looks like for us. And it’s time to finish the playing chapter of rugby,” Whitelock said in a statement released by NZ Rugby.

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“I think if you talk to anyone who has played for a long time, that desire [to compete] never leaves, it’s just that stage of life when you move on. It’s not a decision that we have come to lightly, but it’s the right thing for myself and it’s the right thing for my wife and our three kids – Fred, Iris and Penelope.

Samuel Whitelock of New Zealand looks on during the Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and South Africa at Stade de France on October 28, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

“And I think that is what excites me the most – spending more time with my kids and my wife, and actually watching them play sport. Being able to go to the cross-country at school and those things.

“It’s hard to thank everyone, but obviously Hannah has been a massive part along with my parents, brothers, cousins, uncles, aunties and grandparents. And also the fans in general, they’ve been so receptive of myself and also the way I play.

“I’m very appreciative of the support I’ve had and there is no way I could have achieved the things I’ve had without them.”

Whitelock began his professional career with Canterbury in 2008 and made his All Blacks debut against Ireland in 2010.

He went on to win two World Cups, in 2011 and 2015.

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“The thing I’m proud of is that I never really counted test matches – I always wanted to make the test matches count,” Whitelock said. “So if it was my last one, I wanted to be able to walk away and say ‘I gave it everything, I didn’t hold anything back.’ I was fully committed.”

Crusader Burke heading to England

Saracens have signed Crusaders flyhalf Fergus Burke as a replacement for Owen Farrell.

Burke, 24, qualifies to play for England but represented New Zealand at under 20 level.

Burke, who helped Crusaders win the 2023 Super Rugby title, has signed what Saracens say is a “long term deal”.

“Fergus is a very exciting addition to our squad and the Gallagher Premiership,” director of rugby Mark McCall told the club website. 

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“His playing ability and potential is obvious and we have been hugely impressed by his ambition and desire to take his game to the next level.

“At 24, Fergus joins a group of players who we believe can take the club forward in the years to come.”

Burke has played 33 times for the Crusaders.

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