New Zealand Rugby
McAlister ruled out for rest of season
October 6, 2010
North Harbour's Luke McAlister has been ruled out for the remainder of the season © Getty Images
Former All Blacks utility back Luke McAlister's hopes of an international recall for the end of year Grand Slam tour have been dashed by a broken jaw.
The 27-year-old's injury-ravaged return to New Zealand rugby continued when North Harbour confirmed the 30-Test back was ruled out for the remainder of the year. McAlister originally injured his jaw playing against Manawatu two weeks ago and copped another accidental facial blow - by a team-mate - when Harbour played Counties-Manukau last Sunday.
He will miss the final three weeks of North Harbour's campaign and is unavailable for selection for the All Blacks tour of Hong Kong, the UK and Ireland. "Obviously I'm gutted with the injury," McAlister said. "It's not the best timing. I've had a pretty good run of games up until now and was getting myself back to where I wanted to be."
McAlister has been plagued by injury since he returned to New Zealand in May last year after two years with the Sale club in England. He played eight Tests last year but was overlooked this season after a disrupted Super 14 season with the Blues. McAlister said those setbacks had steeled his resolve to come back stronger and push for selection in World Cup squad.
"I've had a few setbacks in my time so I'm pretty good at dealing with these kinds of situations. My focus now is to let it settle down and heal up, then gear up for Super 15 pre-season and a big year in 2011."
McAlister's demise strengthens Sonny-Bill Williams' already compelling case for inclusion in the All Blacks tour party as a midfield alternative for incumbent inside centre Ma'a Nonu.
In related news, All Blacks fullback Mils Muliaina returns to action for Waikato for their national provincial championship rugby match against Otago in Hamilton on Friday night. Muliaina was originally expected to miss the entire championship after he was earmarked to rest ahead of New Zealand's northern hemisphere tour next month.
However, he told All Blacks coach Graham Henry he wanted some game time, hence his selection by Waikato coach Chris Gibbes.