The story of Andrew Knewstubb's incredible comeback

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This weekend, Knewstubb returns to the site of his original ACL tear in 2022 - the Singapore National Stadium.

“I’ve played there a few times and it’s a wicked stadium, an indoor venue which means the conditions are always good. There are always a few highlights that come out of Singapore. It’s so fast, tough on the lungs,” Knewstubb said.

“I thought my body might say no more, but when I was injured, I learned to stay with it when it’s really tough. It’s easy to talk yourself out of things but someone always has it tougher. Gratitude. I tried to lean on that to get me through.”

Knewstubb played four matches at the 2022 Singapore Sevens before succumbing in the 22-14 win over Samoa in the quarter final. To add insult to injury, New Zealand was beaten 28-17 by Fiji in the final. He returned in March 2023 only to sustain the same injury. Knewstubb returned for the Vancouver Sevens in February.

The grit of Knewstubb was evident at the Hong Kong Sevens. The All Black Sevens secured their first victory of the 2023-24 SVNS series foiling France 10-7 in the Cup final. Knewstubb, a titan in the tackle, delivered the last pass for a decisive Scott Curry try.

Earlier narrow successes against Great Britain (12-7), USA (12-7) and Fiji (19-12) was proof of growing resilience.

“From the start of the year, we targeted Hong Kong as a pinnacle event. It was the last time at that iconic stadium where we have so much history, so we wanted to perform,” Knewstubb said.

“Defensively we were sharp. That’s all about attitude, wanting it more than the other team, and sometimes in those tight games that’s the only difference; who’s more willing to work, because it’s always going to hurt.

“Lots of people have talked about Antoine Dupiont coming in for France and making a difference, but they’ve been sharp for a while now; really good in some games, but knocking off in others. France is putting it together more consistently now and that makes them a dangerous side.”

Jonathan Laugel (423 SVNS matches), Stephen Parez-Edo Martin (767 points, 103 tries, and Paulin Riva (640 points, 64 tries) are some of the Frenchman causing concern for opposition.

Singapore is the penultimate round of the SVNS series. New Zealand are in fifth place on 73 points but could rise to second place by repeating their 2023 Cup success.

Dylan Collier, Regan Ware, and Moses Leo scored tries in a 19-17 victory over Argentina in the 2023 final. It was the first time in 18 years the All Black Sevens had won the Singapore tournament.

This weekend the All Blacks Sevens will be without Roderick Solo, Sione Molia, Payton Spencer, Akuila Rokolisoa, Tim Mikkelson, Joe Webber and Amanaki Nicole who are all injured but Kitiona Vai, Lewis Ormond, Leroy Carter, and Ngarohi McGarvey-Black return.

“Our injuries have been insane. Tomasi Cami has done a good job placing full trust in young guys to come on and finish the job. He understands the game so well he can coach guys through that,” Knewstubb said.

“It’s hard to gauge where we are in terms of the Olympics, but I know if we get all our guys back on the field, we’ll be right.”

Knewstubb has played 28 SVNS tournaments. In 2018 he won a Rugby World Cup and Commonwealth Games gold medal. In 2021 he captured a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

While injured Knewstubb found solace from his border collie Benji (named after Benji Marshall) and carving. He has crafted Patu and guitars.


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