New Zealand flanker, Sam Cane, has been cleared for contact training six months after suffering a broken neck during their narrow win over South Africa.
The 27-year-old underwent surgery after he sustained a small fracture in a vertebra on the lower right side of his neck in the 32-30 win in Pretoria last October but has been involved in light training with his club, Chiefs, since pre-season.
However, after being seen by a specialist in the last month, Cane has now been cleared for contact training though no return date has been set.
Chiefs coach, Colin Cooper told Stuff that Cane will be managed carefully.
“He had a little bit of contact yesterday and we’ll manage him through some contact in the next two weeks and take it from there,” Cooper said.
“It’s exciting for him and he’s excited to be back. It’s been a tough journey for him but, as the co-captain, he’s been playing a key part and making sure there’s accountability and some honesty among us coaches and the players.
“[We have to consider] if we put him into some club rugby to get more confidence, or do we bring him off the bench? It’s all about managing him through that.”
Cane has been included in New Zealand’s 41-man squad for their ‘foundation day’ due to take place in Wellington next Monday.
Players will undergo fitness testing and partake in planning meetings during the one-day camp. It is one of three days that the All Blacks coaches have scheduled during the Super Rugby season as they continue preparations for the World Cup in Japan later this year.
Cane has made 6o appearances for the All Blacks since making his debut in 2012, scoring 65 points, and he will look to regain his jersey from Ardie Savea heading into a crucial period.
His return would be a timely boost to the Chiefs who suffered a disastrous start to 2019, losing their opening four games.