All Blacks midfielder Jack Goodhue to return from injury via club rugby

All Blacks and Crusaders midfielder Jack Goodhue is preparing to tick off his recovery from a serious knee injury with a club rugby fixture.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson confirmed the 26-year-old would turn out for a yet to be confirmed Christchurch club either this weekend or next, before making his Super Rugby return.

It’s been a grueling 12 months of rehab for Goodhue, who wrecked his left knee playing against the Hurricanes in Wellington last April.

In addition to rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament, he damaged his medial collateral ligament and posterior cruciate ligament attempting to tackle midfielder Peter Umaga-Jensen.

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“He’s trained with us at a level we would normally expect of him being fully fit. The medical group have done a great job with him. He’s some athlete, when you see him running around you realise, ‘ohh wow! What a special man we’ve got with us’.

“That’s really exciting for him, it’s coming on a year, not many injuries take a year to come right from, but that’s how serious it was.”

Crusaders midfielder Jack Goodhue holds his knee after wrecking it against the Hurricanes in Wellington last April.

Kerry Marshall / Photosport

Crusaders midfielder Jack Goodhue holds his knee after wrecking it against the Hurricanes in Wellington last April.

The Crusaders, who this week posted footage of the 63-cap Crusader completing running and tackle drills on social media, had always planned for Goodhue to return mid or late April.

All going well, he looks set to return for the Crusaders during their four-week tour of Australia, where they face the Rebels, Waratahs, Force and Brumbies.

Talk about a selection headache for Robertson, who already has the luxury of picking between All Black Braydon Ennor and Leicester Fainga’anuku, arguably the form Crusader so far this season, to play center.

Goodhue is an established player at both second five-eighth and center. Before he was injured last season, he started all six games at center with Ennor (knee) injured and David Havili moving into the midfield.

Crusaders midfielder Jack Goodhue runs water against the Chiefs in Christchurch last month.

Kai Schwoerer / Getty Images

Crusaders midfielder Jack Goodhue runs water against the Chiefs in Christchurch last month.

However, in 2020, he started 11 matches in the No 12 jersey and just one at center. In 2019, when Ryan Crotty was still around, he played 13 games at center and just a couple at 12.

“Look, his body and his mechanics and the way he’s run, and his skillset, is all there for him … he’s got a couple of weeks before he gets there, but he will be a great addition for us,” Robertson said .

Ahead of the team’s first game at Sky Stadium since Goodhue went down in a heap almost a year ago to the day, Robertson has opted to start Ennor at center and slide Fainga’anuku to the bench.

Leaving the competition’s joint leading try-scorer (five tries) on the bench means the Crusaders can inject plenty of punch into the match against a side renowned for finishing with a bang.

“I just think the quality of Leicester’s game has just risen, that’s why the decision is so tough. But also game time, minutes, impact, Leicester is a great impact player, ”Robertson said.

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“What Braydon brings is class, all his speed …. it’s his opportunity. He’s come back from injury, and he’s healthy now. “

A couple of days after hooker Shilo Klein was suspended for three weeks for his high shot on Highlander Ethan de Groot, Robertson had no gripes with the punishment.

“His intent and accuracy didn’t match up. For him, it’s a tough lesson for the young man, we’re straight into extra classes for him just to make sure he gets his technique right, and all of us, we’ve got a real clear focus of staying low, and he got that one wrong. “

Crusaders: Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, David Havili, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Mitchell Drummond, Cullen Grace, Ethan Blackadder, Pablo Matera, Quinten Strange, Scott Barrett (c), Fletcher Newell, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Ricky Jackson, George Bower, Tamaiti Williams, Zach Gallagher, Tom Christie, Bryn Hall, Fergus Burke, Leicester Fainga’anuku

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