Spiderman to put bite on Cruds

By gary.hamilton-irvine@dailypost.co.nz, Gary Hamilton-Irvine

Young Aucklander Gareth Anscombe arrived on the scene at Chiefs pre-season training ready to go, but was out injured the next day.

A spider bite to his ankle was the diagnosis from team doctors after moving into a flat shared by All Blacks Sam Cane and Brodie Retallick last week.

The bizarre start to his playing days at the Chiefs has not concerned the 21-year-old, who is pumped for a "fresh start" at the Super rugby champions.

Anscombe said he considered a lot of things before moving to the Chiefs, where he will play second-string to All Blacks first-five Aaron Cruden.

"It certainly wasn't on the cards [to move here] a couple of months ago but this opportunity arose and something really appealed to me," he said.

"The coaching staff really speaks for itself and a chance to learn off a few of them was exciting. So when that chance came I was quite keen to come down here [to Hamilton]."

Anscombe is one of eight new recruits at the Chiefs, boasting an impressive ITM Cup career where he has scored more than 400 points since debuting for Auckland in 2010.

However, the playmaker had a rough start to his Super rugby career this year, playing in a Blues team which struggled for results.

He was axed from the team when Sir John Kirwan took over the coaching position at the end of the season.

"I had a meeting with JK - I won't go into it - but they had their reasons [for dropping me] and it all happened pretty quickly.

"The next week was all over the show and they gave me the chance to stay there if I wanted to.

"But, in the end, getting a fresh start, and I think getting away out of Auckland, is the best thing for me right now, to just focus on my footy."

He said he was looking forward to learning from Cruden but was certainly not content on riding the bench all season. "Obviously there is a very good first five down here so I'm realistic of where I stand. But I'm certainly not the type of person that is happy to sit on the bench, so I hope to put my cause up in the pre-season games. It is a long season so I'm sure there will be times when they give Cruds a rest and I will challenge him along [the way] and hopefully get a few starts here and there."

He is the son of former Auckland coach and current Ulster (Ireland) coach Mark Anscombe, but said a move to Ireland was never really on the cards. "I never looked into that. At 21 I'm just starting my career in New Zealand not ending it."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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