Nese Malifa will be back in 7s camp this weekend, attempting to make the squad for Wellington and Las Vegas. He hasn’t played regularly for the 7s team since the 2009/2010 IRB 7s World Series, as he’s been sidelined periodically by injuries.
He wasn't in camp for the Pan-Am Games or the first three IRB World Series events in 2011 because he was recovering from the rigors of the World Cup and the buildup to the World Cup, and partially because of an ankle injury he suffered playing 15s with Glendale.
Some say he should still be taking time off or recovering from surgery. Malifa is just 26-years-old, but he’s played a lot of rugby in the last several years, from club 15s to the NA4 to both senior Eagle teams, and that wear and tear has taken its toll.
He could use microfracture surgery on his knee and a cleaning of his rotator cuff. But, Malifa is going to try and play through the injuries.
“I just need to see him healthy,” said USA 7s coach Al Caravelli. “He feels that if it’s managed properly and he does proper rehab and strengthening, so forth, that he can continue.
“I value Nese a lot. I want to give him a chance. I also want to evaluate him, because if this isn’t good for him, if he’s not ready, then he needs to have the surgery.”
If Malifa can prove he’s not held back by the nicks, he might earn himself not just a spot on the team for Wellington and Las Vegas, but a full-time contract.
“If he performs, we’ll give him a shot to come back to the next one. If he does great, he’ll make the squad,” said Caravelli. “And if he does that, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be offered a contract, because he’s young enough still.”