Palu set for comeback
February 15, 2012
Wycliff Palu was forced to pull out of the Rugby World Cup through injury © Getty Images
Australia No.8 Wycliff Palu is hoping to put his recent injury nightmare behind him when he turns out for the Waratahs in Friday's trial match against Tonga at the Sydney Football Stadium.
The imposing 29-year-old tore his anterior cruciate ligament late in the 2010 Super Rugby campaign and missed the entire Test season that year. He returned for the Waratahs last term but was plagued by a chronic hamstring injury that limited him to a handful of appearances before fracturing his shoulder blade playing club rugby.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans took a leap of faith in the destructive forward by naming him in the 30-man World Cup squad, but Palu's troublesome hamstring again gave way after half a game against the United States and he was sent home. Five months later, an edgy Palu is just hoping to survive the opening minute of his latest comeback on Friday.
"I'm not too sure - I'd just be happy to play one [minute] I think," Palu said when asked how much game time he was hoping to get through. The last couple of years hasn't been the best but hopefully I get a good run this week and move on after that.
"I've had a bit more time to get everything right this time around so everything's good at the moment and I'm just trying not to look too much in the past. I'm getting sick of the old 'how's the hammy feeling?' question.
"And I say the same thing every time... and that's probably the reason why I keep getting injured because I keep talking about it. It (the World Cup) was disappointing, but what can you do? That's in the past and I'm trying to look forward now."
He added of his fitness levels after a gruelling pre-season: "I'll tell you after the game on Friday but I'm feeling pretty good. This time last year I was coming back from a knee injury and that's a year stronger now so that's a positive.
"(I'm looking forward) just to run out again and throw the ball around instead of running 50s (50m sprints). I couldn't tell you how many 50s I've run over the last two years."
Asked what he was expecting from his fellow Tongans on Friday, he replied: "I'm not too sure what their team is but they're a lot of local boys so they'll definitely be pretty good and I'll definitely have a target on my head, as the other Tongan boys will as well.
"If you're Tongan and you're playing in the other side, you probably get a bit more attention but it's all right. I don't know about testing my hammy - it'll probably test my jaw though."
Wallabies prop Benn Robinson will also make his return from injury against Tonga, while new recruit Adam Ashley-Cooper will make his first appearance since joining the Waratahs from the Brumbies.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.