Howlett out of Commonwealth Games
07 March 2006Â
All Blacks rugby wing Doug Howlett has been ruled out of the Commonwealth Games sevens team due to injury, giving Amasio Valence a last-minute reprieve.
Howlett suffered a hamstring injury during the Blues' Super 14 loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.
New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens said Howlett had a scan on the injury yesterday, which revealed a slight tear.
"It's estimated that he wouldn't be able to train fully for a period of seven to 10 days," Tietjens said.
"Given the short turnaround to our first game, we had to make a decision. It is disappointing for Doug and the team because he was really excited about going to the Games and playing for New Zealand."
He will be replaced by Valence who passed a fitness test on Sunday after being a surprise omission from the 12-man squad named last week due to an ongoing knee injury.
Valence, who last month became the first player to compete in 50 International Rugby Board sevens tournaments, made his debut as a 17-year-old at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games.
AdvertisementAdvertisementHe played a key role in their gold medal campaign there and at the 2002 Games in Manchester where they defended their title.
"Amasio has come through our training sessions extremely well considering he had been hampered by a knee injury," Tietjens said.
"He was part of the wider squad and was aware that if his fitness test results were good and he did well at training, he would be considered for selection in the event of an injury and that's what's happened."
The New Zealand team depart Auckland for Melbourne on Saturday at 4pm.