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Tuitavake battling on

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Sportal.co.nz     26 Feb 2010     Getty Images

The 28-year-old six-Test All Black wing has been sidelined for five-months with a painful pelvic injury which he carried through the Junior All Blacks matches and while playing for North Harbour in the Air New Zealand Cup, but in his first match back he returned a 60-minute stint for the Blues development side last week.

A former Kelston Boy's High student, Tuitavake will take up a 'pretty good package' when joining former Taranaki midfielder Bryce Robins, Tongan openside-flanker Nili Latu and former Highlanders and Blues coach Greg Cooper at the NEC team in Abiko, Japan after the Rebel Sport Super 14.

"I'm physically breaking down and have to take into consideration the life span you have in rugby, so it's probably a good time for me to go," he said.

"The latest injury has affected my top-end speed. I feel it when I step, on contact, when I extend my groin and clearing a ruck is painful. Plus when fatigue sets in, which happens quicker this year with the fast-paced new rules, the tendons start to rub."

His family has been another key factor in his overseas shift.

"It will be hard to leave my family, the team love and the black jersey, but I have to look after Susan, 55, [mother] and Henry, 54 [father]," the 95kg utility said.

"They are getting old and they have put a lot into me and it's only fair to repay it now.

"They have given me financial support and all I ever wanted growing up and I want them to enjoy their next half century."

Although quietly excited about his move further north, his heart still lies with the Blues after 44 matches for the franchise.

With a midfield curse striking down Luke McAlister, Isaia Toeava and George Pisi, Tuitavake may get his chance to impress at centre, or wing, next week against the Crusaders in Christchurch.

"Hopefully I will get a crack," he said.

"But with the competition we have and if the team goes well I might not play for another two to three weeks.

"If I start on the wing then I can cover somewhere else if injuries happen. Nowdays I don't mind where I play I just want to be on the field."