I have arrived back in England to the new facilities at Hazelwood which are really impressive and I’m sure will give the boys a great boost going into the new season.
Since my last update, training progressed even further with Owen and Ben coming back from the All Blacks camp. I started training two to three times a week with Owen doing gym sessions and skills sessions. In the gym I made some good strength gains, this, combined with the nutritional input I got from Di McCauley, enabled me to come back to pre-season in great shape. I found the skills sessions to be really valuable specifically working on fundamentals of being a prop. The highlight of the skills sessions came when doing a scrum session with Ben and Owen having one of the boys scrummaging against me and the other critiquing my technique and giving me tips.
I played Club rugby with Linwood and we moved into the second round winning all but one of our games, all with try scoring bonus points. We had a dangerous backline with players such as Willi Heinz and Richie Mo’unga who will be playing for Canterbury in the ITM, as well as Ray Lee Lo who is playing for Counties Manakau. We convincingly won the semi-final against Marist Albion. The plate final was against Christchurch, it proved to be a tough game, with many of our star players being away either with the Crusaders in the final against the Waratahs or with Canterbury playing in their ITM warm up games. We lost the game by five points having a try disallowed in the last minute of the game. It wasn’t the ideal way to end my time with the team, but we put in such a great performance, to fight back from being 21-0 after 20 minutes.
Outside of rugby I made some great friends and was able to see a lot of the South Island, which is a stunning place. I did whale watching and swimming with dolphins which has to be up there, as well as the world’s highest cliff jump.
The experience as a whole was incredible and profitable for my rugby, I enjoyed playing in a different culture and developing different aspects of my game. I am coming home with a great energy and drive to push on for the coming season and with more knowledge and insight into how two of the best props in the world train.