Johan Bardoul got one of the best phone calls he has received last Friday when he was asked to join the Chiefs for the rest of the season to cover for Michael Leitch who has a broken foot.
The former Thames Valley and Waikato player, who linked with Mount Maunganui this season after moving over the Kaimais, is excited about the opportunity with the Super 15 champions before he joins the Bay of Plenty Steamers squad for the ITM Cup.
"I haven't actually played club rugby for about six weeks after I fractured my ankle and tore some ligaments but I had been going to Bay of Plenty training so had kept reasonably fit," Bardoul said.
"I had played three games for the Mount, and played in the Chiefs Development team, and had a week with the Chiefs in pre-season training."
The 25-year-old signed for the Steamers at the end of last year after not getting much game time with Waikato and in his short time with Mount Maunganui has impressed with his rugged, Wayne Ormond-like defence. At 109kg and 1.92cm, Bardoul is hard to miss on the field and he will be a valuable acquisition to the Steamers' loose forwards.
"I am really looking forward to the ITM Cup season with the Steamers. They are a good bunch of boys at the trainings and I have got on well with the coaches so it should be a good season."
Bardoul is looking forward to working with all the Chiefs players but particularly Tanerau Latimer as the Te Puke man is a player he aspires to be like.
"He is pretty inspirational and a good guy too," Bardoul said.
" I have been training a bit with him and trying to learn off him and he is a key part of the Chiefs. He is certainly someone to look up to."
Steamers coach Kevin Schuler says the man affectionately known as Yogi was one of the first players he signed at the end of last year.
"I am surprised Yogi has not played more rugby at a higher level already. He is a pretty tough character, sets very high standards and few guys train harder," Schuler said.
"Before his injury he was pretty dominant at club level and a key trait about him is he is very competitive and pretty relentless. He just loves hard work which is a great characteristic to have in a player."