Jack Goodhue made his long-awaited return to the Crusaders over the weekend when he topped a solid 50 minutes against the Rebels in Melbourne.
Goodhue hadn’t stepped onto the pitch for a professional match since the second round of last year’s competition, where he tore his ACL in an innings, but after a quick run in club rugby last week, the midfielder from the All Blacks barely missed a beat against the Rebels. on Saturday.
Playing in the second five-eighth, fellow All Black inside player Braydon Ennor, Goodhue finished the match with 64 meters, two clean breaks and four defeated defenders to his name.
Unsurprisingly, Goodhue’s coaches and teammates were delighted with the 26-year-old’s return to the field.
“It’s been a long time for Jack and the whole group was really excited for him to come back out after a club game,” Crusaders assistant coach Andrew Goodman said this week. “I thought he did an amazing job: solid 50 minutes, helpful on both sides of the ball and will continue to improve as he gets opportunities in the weeks to come.
“There was a big smile on his face afterwards and the whole group was really excited for him.”
Given the incredible amount of time Goodhue has spent out of the game (missing the Canterbury NPC season, as well as the entirety of the testing schedule), it’s no surprise that the Crusaders continue to help him get back into action.
“He had been a year out of the game so we want to do what’s best for Jack when he returns to rugby at this level,” Goodman said. “He was a club 40 before that, so we’re looking to increase his minutes and strengthen that knee and give him confidence. There’s a bit of lung stuff in there as well as you can imagine after being out of the game for so long.
“You can expect Jack to play a few more minutes in the coming weeks.”
Now the question remains where the crusaders with Goodhue’s talents will best benefit.
David Havili has been a mainstay in the No. 12 jersey this season, missing just two games, including Saturday’s 42-17 win over the Rebels, and he’ll be the favorite to return to that role against the Waratahs this weekend. Meanwhile, Braydon Ennor has been the main center for the Crusaders, but has shared some of the duties with Leicester utility broker Fainga’anuku. Both players are just as competent on the wing as they are in midfield, but with Sevu Reece and George Bridge also options, coach Scott Robertson will struggle to find room on Matchday 23 for all of his best players, let alone the running side. .
It’s going to be a similar story later in the season when the international calendar kicks off. The absence of Anton Lienert-Brown, ruled out for six months with a shoulder injury, has now been made up for by the return of Goodhue, who will compete with All Blacks 2021 Havili, Ennor, Quinn Tupaea and Rieko. Ioane in midfield, while the likes of Fainga’anuku, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and the Umaga-Jensen brothers also loom as possible options in midfield.
While there are plenty of players for All Blacks head coach Ian Foster to select in the No. 12 and No. 13 jerseys, there are few firm combinations or proven test players to fill any of those jumpers in. the present.
The All Blacks will name a squad of 36 players (or fewer, depending on injuries) for their July Test series with Ireland. Despite Goodhue’s only recent return to play, he is expected to return directly to the team, as was the case with Ennor last year after returning from a similar injury.
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