He was up on stage three times at the Bay of Plenty Rugby Awards on Wednesday night.

That's pretty good for a guy who broke his ankle playing for the Chiefs against the Hurricanes in April and as a consequence hasn't played since.

But Aidan Ross is not one to let a season-wrecking injury keep him away from the game he and his girlfriend love.

His girlfriend is Michaela Blyde, the Black Ferns Sevens star who was named as both the Sportsperson of the Year and Supreme Award winner.


As Michaela is in Colorado preparing for the first World Series event of the new season, it was big Aidan who went up to collect her trophies.

"She's done amazing and wonderful things out on the field. She's put some pretty hard work in at the high performance centre and it's great to see it paying off," Ross says.

Ross, who made his Steamers debut in 2015 and came into the Chiefs in 2017 as an injury replacement himself, suffered terrible misfortune in the game against the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Teammate and fellow prop Angus Ta'avao fell on Ross' right ankle as they were both going for a loose ball. Ross was carried off.

But he's worked hard in the past seven months and is ready for the Chiefs pre-season training.

"I'm getting there, almost. It was frustrating but it's my first ever injury. But as you learn, that's footy. You sign up for it, you just got to take it as it comes.

"It was definitely interesting being on the other side of it. I learnt a lot. The most interesting thing was that rugby is not the be-all and end-all. There's other things than just the game. So I got plenty out of it."

He's been running now for a couple of months, slowly building up fitness for what he hopes will a successful Super Rugby season.


But during the down time in the winter, he tried his hand at something else in rugby – coaching. He volunteered as an assistant coach of the Bay of Plenty Under-16 team.

That attitude to get involved in the game at junior level, despite his setback, was the reason he was presented with the award for Community Service on Wednesday night.

"That was pretty cool. I was happy to help with the under-16s. They're a great bunch of lads and to tick off a coaching course as well, it just shows that I did something with all my spare time."

He intends to get back over the hill to a place in Hamilton in the very near future to "get stuck into it" at the Chiefs training base.

"I'm trying to get a bit of a head start so that when it comes to pre-season matches, I'll be ready to go."

But since he's been away, the Chiefs have had two props promoted to All Blacks status.

Karl Tu'inukuafe, who came to the Chiefs after Ross' injury, became a cult figure this season with his strong scrummaging in test matches, although he's off to the Blues in 2019.

Then Ta'avao himself played against Argentina, and now another Taranaki front rower, Reuben O'Neill, has been picked in the 51-man All Black squad to start the end of year tour.

So does Ross ever think what might have been this year if he'd stayed healthy?

"Well first, full credit to those guys, they thoroughly deserve it.

"But no one will ever know now. Remember I got my break in footy through Mitch Graham breaking his leg. It's no one's fault. It's just the way it works."

Ross turns 23 next Thursday. In theory his best years as a prop are in front of him.

The great attitude he's shown during his year of misfortune deserves to be rewarded with a successful 2019 Super Rugby season.

Then, who knows what looms beyond that?