Turnbull relishing return after long recovery

Touch Black Dayna Turnbull will return to competitive touch at the annual Cromwell tournament on Saturday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Touch Black Dayna Turnbull will return to competitive touch at the annual Cromwell tournament on Saturday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Dayna Turnbull is ready to stop dodging imaginary opponents and start evading real ones.

The 24-year-old Touch Black will make her competitive return at the annual Cromwell touch tournament on Saturday.

Turnbull ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee at the national tournament in March last year.

She was making one of her trademark sidesteps when the injury occurred. She had surgery in April and spent the rest of the year teaching herself to ''run again''.

''This will be my first tournament back. It has been a long time coming,'' she said.

''There has been a lot of gym work. You start with straight line running and cannot really do agility for a while. But once you get there, it is all worth it.''

Turnbull has played some social touch on the wing but is looking forward to returning to the middle of the park and putting her sidestep into action again.

She has been a member of the open women's Touch Blacks for the past five years and has an important couple of seasons ahead.

There is a transtasman series at the end of April which will serve as a crucial part of the team's build-up for the world cup, which is in Malaysia in early 2019.

''That is definitely the big goal,'' she said.

If Turnbull makes the squad, it will be her second World Cup. It is fair to say there is some unfinished business from the 2015 tournament at Coffs Harbour.

The Touch Blacks beat Australia during pool play but lost the gold medal match to their rival.

But that is in the future. More immediately, Turnbull just wants to start feeling like a Touch Black again.

''Right now I know I'll be able to play but I don't want to return to the game unless I'm back to the best I can possibly be.

''My goal is always fitter, faster, stronger. So if I can come back fitter, faster and stronger then I will know that I'm ready to move forward to the Touch Blacks.''

The Cromwell tournament is in its 12th year and ''is the best one-day tournament we have in the South Island''.

''It has been running for a long time and every year it just gets better and better.''

Turnbull will play for the Pacific Heat in the mixed open grade. The Heat is a former champion but lost the final to a Southland representative team last year. She will also play for Fam Bam in a social mixed grade.

Twenty-one teams have enter across the three grades - that is about 300 players.

Southland and Pacific Heat shape as favourites in the mixed open, while the men's section will be hotly contested with reigning champion Kingsmen [King's High School] back for another campaign.

The social mixed grade is an unknown quantity but the local team seems to be getting some positive press.

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