As the much anticipated Super 14 kicks into action shortly, the Auckland Blues played a preseason match against the Waikato Chiefs on the weekend. The game was a disaster for the Blues though, as lock Ali Williams limped off after only a few minutes.
Williams ruptured his Achilles tendon after just three minutes on the field, resulting in him heading back to the sidelines for the rest of 2010. It was his first match back after spending most of 2009 out with the exact same injury.
The Achilles was operated on and repaired in June, but the 28 year old will face further surgery next week as it ruptured just below the scar tissue from the previous procedure.
“I knew what it was as soon as it happened,” Williams said. “As you would expect I’m absolutely gutted.”
All Blacks coach Graham Henry said he was devastated for Williams.
“He’s distraught about it,” Henry said. “But he’s a positive guy and he’s already talking about having another crack at it.”
Henry phoned the veteran All Black that night, then visited him at his home the next day. He believe that having Williams involved in rugby during his recuperation will help him.
“Having an involvement in the game will be helpful because he wouldn’t have played for 18 months and the game moves on,” he said.
“It’s important to be as current as possible, be on the job and be up to date as much as you can. Some involvement like that will be helpful and I’ll certainly try to get him involved in some of the research for the All Blacks as far as the lineout is concerned.
“He’s gone through a year without any rugby and worked very hard to come back.
“It’s bad enough doing it once but to do it twice is horrendous. But it’s a mark of the man that he’s very keen to get it right and get back on the rugby field.
“A lot of people would throw their arms up and say ‘what’s the point?’
“But he is keen to give it his best shot, which he will and hopefully we’ll see him at some time during the year.”