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Hika Elliot positive about rugby comeback
February 26, 2014
Counties Manukau's Hika Elliot makes a run, Counties Manukau v Taranaki, ITM Cup, Ranfurly Shield, ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe, on September 15, 2013
Hika Elliot hopes to wear the Steelers jumper once again this season © Getty Images
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Almost three months on from neck surgery, Chiefs hooker Hika Elliot is feeling more positive about a rugby comeback.

A bulging disc left Elliot struggling to walk off the pitch in the Maori All Blacks' match against Canada in Toronto in November. The 28-year-old hooker underwent surgery in early December, when his neck was fused using some of his hip bone, and it forced him to consider his playing future. But he has been back in the gym and is due to start running this week.

"I'm actually a month ahead of schedule at the moment, so I'm sitting quite pretty," he said. "I'm back to doing everything I could do in the gym prior to the injury. I'm feeling really fit and really strong."

Elliot will have another scan in just over six weeks. "I'll be able to make a more informed decision as to where I'm heading after that," he said. "But at this time I'm feeling pretty confident that maybe I'll be able to come back."

Elliot is unlikely to return to Super Rugby this year, but he may yet enjoy another ITM Cup campaign with Counties Manukau, the province he joined last season after seven years with Hawke's Bay.

The three-Test All Black says he still has good days and bad, but he feels huge relief to have regained his mobility and strength.

"For a while there, I was quite weak when I first came back into the gym," he said. "But over the last month, especially the back end of that month, I'm pushing some pretty good numbers."

Getting his aerobic fitness back to the levels required to play rugby is the next challenge.

"It'll be four months that I haven't done any running at all," Elliot said. "It's going to be tough, but I'm actually looking forward to it."

© AAP

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