Rugby: Kahui angling for honours

By Greg Taipari

Chiefs midfielder Richard Kahui may not have caught the big one while fishing during his holiday break.

But he is hoping his luck will change for his Super Rugby team as they look to reel in the big one and go back-to-back Super Rugby champions in 2013.

The side returned to training yesterday, minus their All Blacks but with their Maori All Blacks, looking lean, mean and hungry to get their season under way after a two-week Christmas break.

Kahui spent some time with his family over the break at his holiday home in the Coromandel.

"It was really nice, I was up at Matarangi beach, bit of fishing, bit of diving and a little bit of lawn bowls actually. I've been pretty lucky, I've got a few friends with boats, I love to go out on the boat going fishing and diving," Kahui said.

"I love to go snapper fishing, it's probably my main sort of fishing. But it was pretty quiet this year, I only went out two days during Christmas and no bites in two days. So the best fisherman on the boat was my longline."

The 27-year-old's fishing luck was similar to his 2012 rugby season. It looked promising but because of a shoulder injury amounted to surgery and endless hours of rehabilitation.

However, Kahui is hoping to turn that all around this year.

"Firstly coming back from injury, it's been quite hard as it always is from any injury and actually get back on the pitch. But that shouldn't be too far away now.

"But [right now] I'm just trying to find some sort of form early on in the year. I know in the past it has taken me quite a while to get that form back," Kahui said.

"I felt like last year was probably the first year I played descent rugby for the Chiefs during the Super Season so it was pretty disappointing the way it ended. I'd just really love to get a good start.

"I don't mean to come in and be the man of the match every week for the first five weeks. But just to come in and get a really good feel for the game again and start to feel those little things you remember when you're playing all the time and just build on that."

Kahui told The Daily Post yesterday his shoulder was not 100 per cent but it wasn't too far away.

"I'm just looking forward to getting the shoulder on to a few bodies again."

The 190cm tall, 104kg midfielder will have a huge role to play if the squad is to repeat the winning formula of 2012. With the loss of Sonny Bill Williams and Jackson Willison, it will be up to Kahui to get the midfield back to its menacing best.

"Obviously Sonny was a massive part of the side last year and contributed hugely to the success of the team. So to lose someone like him is massive," Kahui said.

"Jackson Willison has been around the team for a long time. He knew how things worked around here and [was] another one who contributed a lot. So we've lost two really big individuals in the backline.

"But we've picked up Charlie [Ngatai] which has been great, Bundee Aki and obviously Andrew Horrell. So we've got guys that have got the ability and got the potential, we just need to work pretty hard the next couple of months.

"I think for me, my role inside that is - I am the senior member, which seems ridiculous at 27 - is just to try and help them feel comfortable and give them the best environment to learn in."

Kahui said the Chiefs was a great place for not just the new members of the squad but old hands like himself to grow as a rugby player.

"We're pretty blessed here at the Chiefs, we've got a really good bunch of men. Everyone looks out for each other, everyone helps each other out.

"I think it's that sort of team culture that carried us through last year and it certainly flowed on through this year with the majority of the squad," Kahui said.

"But also the guys we've brought in this year have brought something a little bit different and its been great. It's always a great thing at the start of every year."

The Chiefs' first game of the year is a pre-season match against the Highlanders at Owen Delany Park, Taupo on February 2.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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