Tuimavave sets sights on future

IT seemed harmless enough.

In the 56th minute of Newcastle's game against the Roosters at Bluetongue Stadium on May 15, Knights prop Evarn Tuimavave went to step off his right foot in a routine hit-up.

The 25-year-old Kiwi international, one of Newcastle's most consistent forwards since joining the club from the Warriors at the end of last season, was on a diagonal run towards the posts at the southern end of the ground.

But his boot planted in the turf, his Achilles tendon snapped, and by the time he had hobbled back to the dressing room, he knew his season was over.

Tuimavave's injury, one of several in that match, took some of the gloss off Newcastle's 34-18 victory and further diluted their already reduced prop stocks.

Speaking publicly for the first time since that night, Tuimavave told The Herald yesterday: "I thought someone ankle-tapped me, and when I turned around there was no one there, and I was like, 'What's going on here?'

"Then I looked down at my foot and my toes were pointing up, and when I tried to stand up I just fell over.

"They pretty much told me in the change rooms straight away that it was season-ending, but you've got to pick yourself up, I guess.

"It's taken me a little bit to do that but you've just got to look on the bright side of things and try to get yourself ready for next year."

Tuimavave had surgery the following week and his right foot and lower leg have been encased in a protective CAM Boot since the operation.

"The recovery's going good and the doctor's been happy with it, so hopefully I'll be back running again in November," he said.

"I was hoping to go home [to New Zealand] to see my kids, but the doctor said I had to be cautious about blood clots.

"It probably wasn't the best idea to go back straight away but once things get better and I've done a bit of training, I'll head back for a wee while."

Tuimavave has kept mostly to himself in recent weeks but was back at training yesterday to lend moral support in the lead-up to Sunday's game against his former teammates at EnergyAustralia Stadium, and to start his rehabilitation program in earnest.

"When you leave your team, it's always the first game you tick off on the calendar when the draw comes out so I'm pretty disappointed that I can't play this weekend, but hopefully the boys can get one up on them," he said.

"We're not going too flash but hopefully I can help some of the younger boys and have a laugh.

"Just being around here is better - it's not so much doom and gloom - and I guess there's a light at the end of the tunnel, so I've got to stay focused on that."

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