Super Rugby players usually look forward to pre-season training in the searing January heat as much as root canal surgery.

But for Chiefs hooker Nathan Harris, every minute back training with his mates is to be treasured as he missed the entire campaign last year after badly damaging his ankle playing for the All Blacks in November 2014.

To be honest I was nervous going back on my first day. It was sort of like going back to school again.

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He eased his way back into playing with Bay of Plenty in last year's ITM Cup and his journey to full fitness is complete.

Harris set some personal bests in the gym this week to prove he is ready physically.

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"To be honest I was nervous going back on my first day," Harris said. "It was sort of like going back to school again. I had missed a whole year of school to be honest but it is a pretty exciting time with missing out last year. I am pretty up-beat about it all."

He is embroiled in a three-way scrap for the hooker's No 2 jersey at the Chiefs with Hikawera Elliot and Rhys Marshall.

"It has been good to push each other just a little bit more and that is good for the team in general," Harris said.

Last week the Chiefs named All Blacks Sam Cane and Aaron Cruden as co-captains for the season, with Liam Messam missing the campaign as he chases a place in the All Blacks Sevens team for the Rio Olympics alongside Sonny Bill Williams.

Read more: Tauranga misses out on Chiefs game

Harris first played rugby with Cane, who turned 24 on Wednesday, in the Bay of Plenty under-14 rep team and they also had a year together in the Tauranga Boys' College First XV.

"Even when we played Bay under-14s they were pretty much calling him an All Black then."

"He was huge physically then and had quite high raps on him coming through his years at Reporoa College and then finally at Tauranga Boys," Harris said.

Sam Cane. Photo/file
Sam Cane. Photo/file

"He is a guy who goes out there and gives 100 per cent every single training and both on and off the field. He is a great guy to be around and he is always pretty open to take advice or to give it to someone else."

"He is pretty well respected even for his age. He is still pretty young but just has a lot of experience with being in the team a wee while now and especially in the All Black environment as well."

The Chiefs have two pre-season games against the Waratahs on February 12 at Rotorua International Stadium and the Blues on February 19 in Pukekohe.

They open their 2016 Super Rugby campaign against the Crusaders in Christchurch in February 27.