7 Feb 2017

Tuipulotu situation causing headaches for Umaga

2:00 pm on 7 February 2017

The New Zealand rugby community remains tight lipped about Blues and All Black lock Patrick Tuipulotu's positive test for a banned substance.

Blues lock Patrick Tuipulotu.

Blues lock Patrick Tuipulotu. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Tuipulotu found out in November last year that he'd returned a positive drugs test and was sent home from the All Blacks end of year tour in Europe for what was described as "personal reasons" at the time.

In a statement on the weekend, New Zealand Rugby said it had strict confidentiality obligations surrounding the case and wouldn't offer any further comment.

At the Blues training session today, coach Tana Umaga said he couldn't reveal any more about the situation but did reveal he's awaiting instruction from NZR about replacement options for Tuipulotu for the upcoming Super Rugby season.

Umaga says the Blues, like every New Zealand Super Rugby team, follow the guidelines set out by the World Anti Doping Agency and World Rugby strictly and all medication players take is logged with the team doctor.

Umaga remembers fearless van der Westhuizen

Tana Umaga took time out today to pay tribute to the late Joost van der Westhuizen.

van der Westhuizen died overnight after a six-year battle with motor neurone disease.

Joost van der Westhuizen, pictured in 2003.

Joost van der Westhuizen, pictured in 2003. Photo: Photosport NZ

The 45-year-old played 89-Tests for the Springboks, 10 of those as captain and was part of the 1995 team that beat the All Blacks in the World Cup final in South Africa.

Umaga played against van der Westhuizen both at All Black and Super Rugby level and said the halfback was one of the grittiest competitors he ever played.

"I just remember some of the tough tests he's played and how he was constantly yapping at his team but also the other team.

"[He had] a competitive nature that was inherent in great halfbacks."

Umaga said it was another sad day for rugby worldwide.

Parsons, Williams remain out of action

The Blues will be without their starting hooker James Parsons for at least the first four rounds of the Super Rugby competition.

Blues hooker James Parsons

Blues hooker James Parsons Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Parsons remains on light duties as he recovers from a concussion he suffered in September when playing for North Harbour in the National Provincial competition.

The 30-year-old said he no longer feels headaches when doing non-contact training but still has a long way to go before taking to the field.

"I haven't run for five months so I've just got to manage that load and we seem to be doing it really well.

"I'm enjoying being back out running, especially being involved with the boys, I've done a lot of running up and down the field by myself but to obviously get out and touch the ball is pretty exciting. I'm just chomping at the bit but I've also got to restrain myself as well so I make sure I dot the 'i's and cross the 't's," Parsons said.

Meanwhile Parsons' new Blues teammate Sonny Bill Williams is also expected to miss the first five weeks of the Super Rugby season as he recovers from an Achilles injury he sustained at the Rio Olympics.