Having spent more than six months sidelined by a neck injury, Sam Cane knows it will take some time before he's back in the swing of things on the rugby pitch.

But he admits that just how long before he's back to his best is anyone's guess.

Cane made his return to Super Rugby last Saturday in an appearance off the bench during the Chiefs loss to the Blues at Eden Park. It was his first outing since fracturing his neck last October.

"I was a wee bit sore on Sunday; but I came through pretty good," Cane said.

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"I was sort of expecting to get out there and get the first contact under my belt and be away but to be honest it my mind was a bit slow.

"I felt quite reactive to what was going on out there which probably makes sense with the amount of time I've been off."

The 27-year-old flanker said he had spoken with teammates, who assured him it was normal to return to the game with a bit of rust, and it usually took a few weeks to get back up with the play.

"This is uncharted territory for me; I'd like to think it won't take that long but I was just talking to guys that have been out long than me before and that's the case. Everyone's different obviously, we'll get a better idea after [Friday] night."

Sam Cane will make his first start of the season for the Chiefs this week. Photo / Getty Images
Sam Cane will make his first start of the season for the Chiefs this week. Photo / Getty Images

Cane will be thrown right back into the heat of battle for the Chiefs tonight when the side host the Reds in Hamilton. Named to start in the No 6 jersey, Cane said he was most likely going to run out with his usual No 7 on his back.

Because of the injury concerns the Chiefs have, Cane guessed the make up of their pack was simply a case of selecting the best available bodies, with both he and flanking partner Lachlan Boshier usually manning the openside role, while fellow loose forwards Jesse Parete and Tyler Ardron occupying the locking roles.

"As soon as the team got announced, me and Lachie talked; Neil Barnes came over and was like 'I don't care which jersey you guys wear, you guys sort it out.'"

The Chiefs are currently languishing at the foot of the New Zealand conference, but remain in the hunt for the playoffs in what has been a close-run competition.

But while the playoffs aren't out of reach, Cane said the side were simply focused on trying to put together a performance to be proud of.

"We're aware that we're a mathematical chance but to be honest we just so badly want to win and put a good performance on that we're proud of. It really hurt walking off Eden Park on Saturday not playing to our potential and getting beaten by a good Blues side."