Auckland prop Sam Prattley has been called into the Blues squad to replace Charlie Faumuina who has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
With Faumuina expected to be out of action for up to 14 weeks with a torn calf muscle, the Blues have taken the conservative approach to replace him rather than risk a recurrence if they rush him back too soon.
Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan said it was a major blow to lose someone of Faumuina’s calibre for the season but it was in the best interests of both Faumuina and the team to replace him.
“Team doctor Stephen Kara said best case scenario for Faumuina returning was eight weeks but the worst case scenario was 14 weeks. I think if we tried to rush Charlie back, he’s the type of guy that wants to help the team out so he’d push hard to get back and possibly to the detriment of his long term career,” Kirwan said.
“He needs to get on top of this injury so keeping the team in mind and Charlie’s future in mind we’ve decided to replace him.
“He’s still going to be with us and we want to get him back as quickly as we can, but unfortunately the rules state that if you replace a player he can’t come back for the season so that’s a tough call but Charlie was understanding and wants to try and get back to 100 per cent so that’s his main goal.”
23-year-old Prattley recently signed a two year contract with Auckland after playing three seasons for Tasman and has been called in to replace Faumuina.
A former New Zealand Under-17 and Under-20 representative, Prattley spent two seasons in the Crusaders Wider Training Group and said he was thrilled to get the call-up from the Blues.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity but also pretty nervous joining the team for the first time this morning,” Prattley said.
“It’s always been a goal of mine to step up to Super Rugby level and was one of the motivating factors in me making the move up to Auckland so I’m really looking forward to the getting stuck in.”
Kirwan said he was happy to welcome Prattley into the fold.
“Sam played well for the Blues development team so we’re happy to have him on board. He’s one of those raw boned, tough and rugged players who covers both sides of the scrum so that’s a real positive for us.”