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Forgotten AllBlacks playmaker still recovering

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James Mortimer     11 Aug 2012     Getty Images

Slade twice broke his jaw playing for the Highlanders last year, while a groin injury suffered against Argentina cancelled his Rugby World Cup campaign, and Lady Luck showed she was not smiling on the 24-year-old when he broke his left leg.

The compound fracture, suffered in March, all but ruled Slade out of the entire season.

While hoping to make his comeback for Canterbury’s ITM Cup title defence, Slade recently had surgery again to remove some screws, and will look to be running in the next few weeks.

Considering his recent injury, he will be careful with his comeback, with Slade telling Fairfax Media that All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had kept in touch with him.

“Steve just wished me all the best in getting right as quickly as possible,” he said.

“He knows, and I know, there is a long way to go before I come back. I am still looking to get out there as soon as possible, I still have that desire to play.”

Slade was considered the second ranked first five-eighth in New Zealand rugby last year, when Sir Graham Henry announced he would backup Dan Carter in the All Blacks squad.

When the veteran suffered his own groin injury, all attention turned to Slade, but when he too went down in action, Aaron Cruden and then Stephen Donald were called up by the eventual World Champions.

Possessing an all-round game and calm match management, the usually unflappable Slade has watched Cruden go from strength to strength to not only become Carter’s understudy, but the Chiefs Super Rugby title winner is putting some real selection pressure on the Southbridge legend.

Beauden Barrett, one of the architects behind a stunning Hurricanes season, was also called up to the All Blacks, and considering a solid debut against Ireland in the Steinlager Series, will look to lock in the ‘third’ playmakers spot in the Investec Rugby Championship camp.

Slade said he was just looking at rebuilding from scratch.

"I have basically lost my calf muscle, so I am trying to get some strength and power back into that to the point where I can push-off and run," Slade said.

"It's too early to say whether I will play for Canterbury, there's no time-line. I don't know how quickly the strength is going to come back. I have an intensive rehabilitation programme and then have to concentrate on getting my fitness back."