ALL BLACKS utility back Isaia Toeava will make his long-awaited return to action when Auckland plays Taranaki in New Plymouth on Sunday.
Toeava has been named on the bench for the match at Yarrow Stadium.
The 25-year-old has not played a match since the Blues’ round 11 encounter with the Highlanders on April 29 after the reoccurrence of a stress fracture in his hip.
“It’s been a long time, but the body’s alright at the moment. The hip’s feeling good, so I’m looking forward to pulling on the blue and white hoops again,” he says
One of the form backs in New Zealand during the Super Rugby competition before he was sidelined through injury, Toeava, who is expected to play 40 minutes off the bench, says he has not set himself any specific targets and wants to concentrate on getting the basics right.
“It’s just getting out there, getting the feel of it again and doing the basics right – that’ll be my main focus and doing the job for the boys.”
Auckland coach Mark Anscombe has tempered high expectations of the star fullback after he only returned to training this morning.
"I think we have to be patient with what we expect from him," he says.
"I think it's been 14 weeks and he's looking for a game. It's a long time out to expect him to come back and carve up. Hopefully he can get through 40 minutes and that will be good for him."
With Auckland enjoying a rare eight-day turnaround following their 21-17 victory over Wellington, Anscombe has made just one change to the starting XV for the match against the ‘Naki
Chris Lowrey has overcome the concussion he suffered against Otago and will move into lock, replacing Josh Townsend who fractured his small toe against the Lions.
Anscombe is wary of a strong Taranaki outfit which has a history of causing Auckland plenty of difficulties.
“They’ve been a bit of a bogey team for us over the years,” he says.
“If you look at the last ten years they’ve had some good wins over Auckland, so they enjoy playing Auckland and they back themselves to get into us so we’re looking forward to a tough battle down in the Naki.”« Back to Archives
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.