New All Black not fit enough for Super Rugby debut
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: New All Blacks sensation Asafo Aumua has been left out of the Hurricanes squad to tour South Africa and Argentina – pushing back a potential Super Rugby debut until at least week three.
Hurricanes assistant coach Jason Holland spoke to Radio Sport about concerns over his level of conditioning returning from the Christmas break.
"There’s little things he would’ve tweaked in the way he spent the first few weeks around Christmas but nothing around lack of effort," Holland said.
"It’s around the way he trains. We’re just looking to him to get some running metres under the belt over the next few weeks in Wellington and he’ll be absolutely flying to go then.
"We just want to make sure we give him every opportunity to be at his best for the whole season. We don’t want to throw him into something when he’s not 100 percent ready to play footy. He’s one we’ve been careful with. Maybe it was best for him to go home for two weeks and continue his conditioning. He’s got a niggly rib injury which probably wasn’t too bad but just to make sure we don’t throw him in and break him for another couple of weeks.”
There will be an element of care in the decision to ease Aumua into Super Rugby, but Holland’s comments suggest his omission was in part due to his fitness level.
The dynamo exploded in the NPC last season for Wellington, demonstrating his special talent and athletic ability on the edge where he scored a number of outrageous tries.
His form led to an All Blacks call-up and a place on the Northern tour where he played against the Barbarians and French XV, playing for the All Blacks before playing Super Rugby.
With Dane Coles recovering from off-season surgery following his ACL injury, the chance to get some playing time was available for Aumua. Instead, the Hurricanes have selected experienced hooker Ricky Riccitelli and James O’Reilly in the 28-man squad for the tour.
Aumua’s next chance at playing Super Rugby will be in round three at home against the Crusaders.