Tom Marshall's frustrating three-month ordeal is finally over.
Despite playing the second half of the Tasman Makos' disappointing 20-17 ITM Cup rugby loss to Northland in Blenheim last Sunday, he finally gets his first start of the campaign when Tasman play Otago at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium on Sunday.
Marshall starts at fullback, with the explosive Robbie Malneek moving to the left wing in place of an injured Bryce Heem. Flanker Tevita Koloamatangi replaces Gary Redmond, who moves to the bench, as the only other change.
Marshall has been out of action since injuring his right shoulder during his Nelson club side's Tasman Trophy final win over Marist in late June. It turned into quite a harrowing recovery exercise for the exciting utility back, also ending his Super 15 campaign with the Crusaders.
"It's been pretty confusing. It's been a bit of a roller-coaster ride," Marshall said.
"Initially we didn't think it was too bad, but I knew in myself that it was quite sore and that I'd done something pretty bad."
While Marshall's immediate thoughts turned to surgery, the diagnosis was thankfully more positive, with no operation required.
"That was good news . . . but I didn't think it would take quite so long to get right, so it's been three months of rehab and slowly getting there."
It cost him any involvement in Tasman's much-anticipated Ranfurly Shield challenge against Taranaki, which Tasman narrowly lost 49-40.
"That was probably the most disappointing thing, that shield challenge. I was really looking forward to that, but it was awesome to see the boys go up there and play well, so that made it a bit easier."
Despite the loss to Northland, Marshall's been excited about Tasman's improved showing this season, including wins over Canterbury, Manawatu and Southland.
"When they're playing well, it makes it easier sitting on the sideline . . . so it hasn't been so bad."
He said that due to the nature of the injury, he hadn't been able to maintain his exercise regime.
"Because the shoulder kind of froze up . . . for two weeks I couldn't lift it up at all. So for probably the first six weeks, I didn't do a heck of a lot, just on the bike and just chipping away; nothing, really. Lately I've been getting into a bit of training and have been able to run and sprint and all that type of stuff; it's just not so much weights in the gym.
"When you're sitting on the couch for a while, you tend to lose [fitness] pretty quick as opposed to how long it takes to get fit. So I was a little bit unfit when I was out there [on Sunday] playing 40 minutes, but it'll come."
He said the Tasman players were feeling naturally distraught at Sunday's loss, particularly as they'd put themselves in a winning position after holding a 17-10 lead midway through the second half.
"It's pretty frustrating to lose those games when you shouldn't. We never really should have lost that game.
"I guess in hindsight it's probably a good wake-up call for the boys. You know, we were sailing along a little bit too comfortably and now we're going to get stuck into our work and hopefully tear apart these Otago boys on Sunday."
He's already experienced playing at the new covered Dunedin stadium as part of the winning South Island team in the inter-island clash in June. And after Otago's impressive 54-25 win over North Harbour on Tuesday, he's expecting a typically tough and physical encounter.
"They'll come out and play. It's an awesome stadium down there and it's pretty hard not to get up for a game. It's pretty loud and it's on Sunday and they'll probably have a few students there, so it should be a really good clash."
TASMAN MAKOS: Tom Marshall, Peter Betham, Kieron Fonotia, Andrew Goodman (captain), Robbie Malneek, Hayden Cripps, Jeremy Su'a, Jordan Taufua, Shane Christie, Tevita Koloamatangi, Joe Wheeler, Filipo Levi, Campbell Johnstone, Quentin MacDonald, Tim Perry. Reserves: Francis Smith, Sam Prattley, Riki Hoeata, Vernon Fredericks, Gary Redmond, Steve Alfeld, Albert Nikoro.
Wednesday September 19 2012 07:59 a.m.