Black's resolve stands up under injury pressure

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Lynn McConnell     15 Feb 2018     Getty Images

Having transferred from a secondary role at the Hurricanes behind All Black Beauden Barrett, Maori All Black Black was set to head north to the Blues with hopes of a clearer pathway to gaining more regular starting time in Super Rugby.
But playing for his province Manawatu in a Mitre 10 Cup game in October last year, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament resulting in surgery that will keep him out for most of the Super Rugby campaign.

That has left him on the sidelines doing what preparation he can but largely having to watch from afar as a new season begins.

"It hasn't really hit me yet but it will once the season gets started. I got itchy feet watching the boys last week [in Brisbane]. It's something I'm going to have to get used to," he said.

But he knows his recovery is well underway and he expects to be able to start running in the next few weeks.

"I can pretty much do everything but I just can't run yet," he said.

In the meantime what had shaped as a highly-competitive contest for the first five-eighths role, and possibly a long-term role, is reduced from three candidates to two, for the moment.

With Stephen Perofeta out with a broken hand for a few more weeks, the field is pretty much open for Bryn Gatland to have first crack at establishing himself in the position while Dan Kirkpatrick will play a back-up role through the earlier stages of the season.

It was a frustration for Black to have to take a back seat but he believed things happened for a reason and he was prepared to devote himself to his rehabilitation to come back stronger.

"Hopefully I'll be able to come out of it a better player and a better person. It definitely tests your character and your patience but I guess it's something I'm just going to have to deal with and hopefully I can come out the other end," he said.

Black said while his opportunities had been limited at the Hurricanes there were benefits. He got to see how Barrett prepared himself first hand.

"A lot of people see what he does on the field but for me, I could see what he does off the field and that was one key learning I took out of that, and he's a really nice guy," he said.

His injury has meant more time to adapt to living in Auckland but he said there had been no problems, he was flatting with an old mate from home, and was enjoying the change.