Blues and All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu has opted for surgery on a developmental defect with his hips that will sideline him for the rest of the year.
Treatment for a recent groin injury for the 22-year-old highlighted a defect with his hips which has previously not been detected.
After further treatment and testing, he and the medical team at the Blues, in consultation with New Zealand Rugby, decided to push ahead with surgery on both hips.
“All options were carefully considered including on-going treatment for Patrick but surgery is the best decision for the long term career in such a young player,” said Blues team doctor Stephen Kara.
The initial surgery on one hip will take place this week and the other hip will be operated on in six weeks.
Tuipulotu decided the best option is to undergo surgery now so he can make a full recovery in preparation for next year’s Super Rugby season.
“I am naturally gutted that this takes me out of consideration for the All Blacks season and the Rugby World Cup, but this is the best thing to do long term,” Tuipulotu told the Blues' official website.
“I am only 22 and I could be around for two more World Cups. The best thing for me and my well-being is to have this surgery now which gives me the time I need to rehab properly and come back stronger, fitter and better.”
Tuipulotu is among a long list of injured players at the Blues, which now totals 12 players.
Joining the high profile longer term injuries is All Black prop Charlie Faumuina who will not be available for the Blues’ two remaining Super Rugby matches. He is suffering from a neck strain with further testing required before finalising a treatment plan.
His All Black team-mate Tony Woodcock will also miss the final two games, with his shoulder injury on the mend but not in time for the final match on 12 June, leaving him on 149 Super Rugby caps.
Meanwhile Charles Piutau is hopeful he will also be available for selection for the match against the Highlanders.
There are currently 12 Blues players on the injured list comprising Jerome Kaino, Steven Luatua, Faumuina, Woodcock, Tuipulotu, Charles Piutau, Pita Ahki, Dan Bowden, Luke Braid, Bryn Hall, Angus Ta’avao and Lolagi Visinia. Added to this are three players – Tevita Li, Blake Gibson and Akira Ioane – at the Junior World Cup.
Blues coach Sir John Kirwan said while the team has been decimated by collision injuries in recent weeks, it offers the opportunity to give experience to several young players likely to be considered for selection for Saturday’s penultimate match against the Crusaders at Eden Park.
Replacements called in to the Blues squad include Nic Mayhew (North Harbour), who made his debut against the Hurricanes, Chris Vui (North Harbour), Sione Mafileo (North Harbour), Matt McGahan (North Harbour), Jack Ram (Northland), Scott Scrafton (Auckland) and Gerard Tuioti-Mariner (North Harbour).