Tauranga's Ben and Sam O'Dea will play in their first beach volleyball tournament together this weekend since competing at the Commonwealth Games more than eight months ago.
The brothers picked up bronze at the Gold Coast games in April and are now looking ahead to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – and everything that needs to be done before then.
The first box – shoulder surgery and full recovery for Ben – has almost been ticked.
The 26-year-old told the Bay of Plenty Times yesterday that it was now about six and a half months since his surgery, and his shoulder was feeling good.
He said the expected recovery time was six to eight months, and his surgeon was happy with his progress.
"The time where we want to be 100 per cent playing-fit again is more so March when we start playing international stuff."
Ben said he was back training on the beach every day two months after his surgery and has been slowly building up to this point, without pushing his shoulder too far.
"I haven't felt any warning signs, but I definitely have to be careful still."
He said although he and his brother have done a lot of training together already, this weekend's New Zealand Beach Volleyball National Championships at Mount Maunganui was a good opportunity for them to get back into competition mode.
"It'll be a good test," Ben said.
"It'll be cool to play together again … it is just Kiwi teams, but there is some good competition, so we're not expecting it to be easy at all."
Sam, 28, has been playing and training non-stop since the Commonwealth Games.
"I kind of had to do something. We had to come up with a plan, basically. Our coach is German, so I headed over there and played on the German national tour," he said yesterday.
Sam said it was a strong tour with a lot of good opposition. He was living in Cologne while in Germany and later spent some time playing in Asia, before returning home to resume training with his brother.
Ben and Sam plan to return to Germany together in March, and that's when things like Olympic qualification begin to become important.
"We'll be overseas basically from March next year, all over the place. We'll be based in Germany probably, start in Asia, play a bunch of stuff in Europe, and we want to surround ourselves with the best possible competition we can for as long as we can leading up to the Olympics," Ben said.
Sam said they have always had a long-term plan and the Commonwealth Games was the first step.
"We're just continuing along what we started with our coach and trusting what he's doing. So nothing changes, just keep doing the same thing and getting better at it."
He said their health always takes top priority and with Ben coming back from injury, this weekend's tournament comes at a good time for them.
"As long as we're healthy, we're really eager and keen to play all these tournaments. We love playing beach volleyball, and this is our favourite beach."
The brothers also have some international competition coming up, with players from Japan, Sweden and Slovenia visiting Mount Maunganui next weekend.
New Zealand Beach Volleyball National Championships
Where: Mount Main Beach
When: Saturday (9am-7pm) and Sunday (semifinals and finals, 10am-3pm)