All Blacks coy over return of prop Rice
CORNISH All Blacks fans are wondering if they will see popular prop forward Martin Rice back in action at Polson Bridge soon.
Rice has not played rugby since April 2010, when he suffered a disc injury in his neck playing for Championship side Plymouth Albion, whom he joined from Launceston in 2005.
Since then, the former All Blacks favourite, who had a six-week spell on loan at Premiership side Wasps in 2009/10, has been busy with work commitments on the family farm.
There was talk of him helping out the All Blacks last season, but it never came to anything.
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However, the 30-year-old has recently been training at Polson Bridge, although All Blacks' head coach Cliff Rainford was quite coy when asked about Rice.
"He has trained with us, but it is early days and I don't want to say too much more than that," said Rainford.
"He just wanted to have a little run-out, he has got good links with the club, he spoke to the club last season, but with the commitments he has with his family's farm, it is always very difficult."
The All Blacks will be hoping to build on last weekend's first win of the season when they entertain third-place Shelford tomorrow (3pm).
Shelford have won three of their first four games to sit only five points behind unbeaten leaders Henley Hawks, and five clear of the ninth-placed Cornishmen.
"They are going very well at the moment, and it will be another hard task for us on Saturday," said Rainford.
"I said before the campaign began, that we probably had the hardest six or seven games to start the season that we could have been given.
"Shelford are on a roll, they have won three out of four, but we have just got to look at our game and take it forward another step after the win at Dings.
"We have spoken to guys from other clubs who have played against Shelford already to pick up small bits of information such as key players and style of play, but it is always very difficult to pinpoint accurately how a team are going to play the game.
"For example, we didn't play the same sort of game against Dings that we did against Hartpury the previous weekend.
"It will be a difficult challenge for us, but we are heading in the right direction, so we are very confident heading into the match."