Rugby Sevens: Andrew Knewstubb returns to All Blacks Sevens after tumultuous two-year hiatus

There were times when Andrew Knewstubb thought he may never make it back to a rugby field.

But two years since he last featured, Knewstubb is now in line for his All Blacks Sevens return.

It's been a tumultuous road back. Two ACL ruptures, infections, extended hospital stays and personal grief that has tested his mental resilience over a difficult period. 

Just being back at training is a momentous first step, after a challenging two years.

"The injury stuff has been really tough," Knewstubb told Newshub.  

"It just seems that when it rains it pours... like everything is going wrong." 

And it's not hard to see why.

The ACL tear he suffered two years ago, was closely followed by cartilage damage followed, leaving doctors uncertain whether he'd be able to play again.

Eight months after that first ACL rupture, he did it again.

Andrew Knewstubb in action at the Tokyo Olympics.
Andrew Knewstubb in action at the Tokyo Olympics. Photo credit: Getty Images

Another surgery, then two weeks later a further setback -  Knewstubb back in hospital with an infection, this time on a drip.

"Every day just felt like a test, and every day I've just tried to answer that test and get through that test," he said. 

But it was test he often thought he wouldn't overcome. The mental toll, as much as the physical, was exhausting.

"It's taken a toll back home," said Knewstubb.  

"I get home and my little dog is looking at me and wanting to go for a walk, and I'm like 'come, on give me a chance to recover'." 

But his perspective never waivered. As Knewstubb battled rehab, he was suffering elsewhere.

"I've had a couple of people pass away that I was close to due to cancer, and my old man went through a stint as well," he explained.

During his extensive time on the sidelines Knewstubb decided to grow his hair out, and when he's finally back in black, he'll chop it off to raise money for the cancer society.

"Some days I think I've got it tough, then I look at guys that are going through a cancer battle, and that's actually hard."

That sense of perspective speaks volumes of Knewstubb's character.

It's that same character All Blacks Sevens coach Tomasi Cama feels has helped him through such a testing time.

"It shows the type of person he is," said Cama. "Resilient. He's a competitor and that's the kind of people we need here."

While the time away was tough, Knewstubb had a major motivation to get back in the Paris Olympics, where he's determined to improve on the silver medal New Zealand won in Tokyo.

"Losing in the final hit me hard, so I want to redeem that and go out and win a gold," he said.

Having overcome two years of anguish to get there, Knewstubb would be more than deserving of that.