Crosswell earns rest break
After a season which began with matches in earnest in February, Manawatu rugby captain Nick Crosswell is understandably seeking out rest, relaxation and warm weather.
Crosswell is not long back from Britain with the New Zealand Maori team, which he found stimulating.
He has been given leave before joining his new Super Rugby franchise, the Chiefs.
"That will present new challenges, and I'm looking forward to it," he said.
Crosswell tracks back to November 21 last year, when training started with the Highlanders.
"And we've just finished a year later," he said.
"The Super season is the one that could be shortened."
He did find the season mentally taxing, and stressed that it was mainly the stretched Super season of 20-plus weeks which took its toll, then into the ITM Cup campaign.
"Sometimes it is good to get away and not think about it for a couple of weeks.
"I am keen to keep fit - it's the footy side of it where we've got to do a lot of work."
It seems the players' association agrees with him, and he can only wonder how tired the All Blacks are, because they are on another level.
Manawatu's Chiefs regulars like Aaron Cruden and Asaeli Tikoirotuma had their energy sapped after their extra-long season this year.
At the Chiefs, Crosswell will be one of a group of loose forwards that includes All Blacks Tanerau Latimer, Sam Cane, Liam Messam and Ross Filipo as well as Fritz Lee.
On the Maori tour, Crosswell started the match against the Championship XV. Other regular starters were Latimer, Shane Christie and No 8 Elliot Dixon, while Karl Lowe had his tour cut short by injury.
Crosswell described the tour as "a neat experience".
Before the tour, the players were taught kapa haka, songs and tikanga by Wellington kaumatua Luke Crawford, who was educated at Hato Paora College, and Crosswell enjoyed that.
They were also acquainted with the history of iwi like Tuhoe and Ngapuhi.
Even though the team lost to Leicester, Crosswell revelled in the occasion against a high-quality side.
"The boys didn't know too much about what to expect; some of us hadn't played for five or six weeks."
As for what seems a tough draw for the Turbos next year, "we'll get stuck into that; we've done it before".
The Manawatu Turbos have signed most of their core players for next season, despite cutting back on salaries to meet the budget.
Chiefs lock Michael FitzGerald was signed yesterday for two more seasons. Utility back Lewis Marshall is also back for two more, while No 8 and lock Hamish Gosling has committed for one more year.
- The Manawatu Standard