The rugby future of ACT Brumbies forward Ita Vaea remains in jeopardy. Photo: Graham Tidy
THE rugby future of ACT Brumbies forward Ita Vaea remains in jeopardy after medical tests in Melbourne during the week revealed irregularities in his blood.
The Tongan No.8 had been aiming for a return to light Brumbies training on Monday, ideally working towards a Super Rugby comeback in 2015.
But Vaea, 24, who hasn't played since discovering life-threatening blood clots in his calf muscle late last year, must now undergo more specialist tests this month.
Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher said the club would not fill Vaea's spot on its 30-man playing roster for next year, confident of its depth.
But Fisher said the Brumbies were still committed to assisting Vaea's recovery.
''We were hoping to have him start a rehab program with us on Monday, but the advice now is he needs to hold off for a few more weeks until he does more testing,'' he said.
''He'd started some light exercise himself, he'd dropped about 15kg so he was feeling quite positive. This is obviously a setback for him.
''We were hoping to slowly work him back over a period of three to five months and look at playing him mid-season in the [local] John I Dent Cup and see what happened from there. That's probably going to be put back a bit and, depending on the further testing, it may never happen.''
Fisher said there was no immediate need to find a replacement for Vaea, especially given the new rule allowing Super Rugby clubs to have a supplementary player outside their top-30 contracted list and their five-man extended player squad.
Fisher said it would enable a Brumbies development player such as Australian Under 20s representative Tom Staniforth to be given an opportunity if needed.
''We don't want to invest a full contract in anybody else at this stage, but I think there's plenty of guys around who could fill a hole if need be,'' he said.
''We've got good depth, so we don't need to jump at shadows and offer someone a full contract. But we've got someone like Tom Staniforth who is in his second pre-season with us, making some really good progress, we'd be happy to give a guy like that an opportunity if we needed to.''