Hoani's back for a flying visit

BY JERRIE ANDREWS
Last updated 05:00 12/03/2009
JOHN HAWKINS/139136
HE HAS THE POWER, AT LAST: Former Stags lock Hoani Macdonald is back in Invercargill for a short stint before he returns to play for Gwent Newport Dragons in Wales.

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Four months on from Hoani Macdonald's shift to Wales and the Southlander has declared himself happy with the move.

Macdonald is back in Invercargill for a short break before he returns to Europe on Monday to continue his marathon season.

The long-serving Stags lock admitted his introduction to the Welsh culture and rugby was a frustrating one.

"It's different over there. Just things like trying to get the power on was a mission, they wanted all these different IDs," he said. "It took me a while to get used to how they did things with the rugby, too, and I was getting bit frustrated with our results, but now I'm happy with how it's all going."

"The guys are great; I've got a lot of time for them," he said,

Surprisingly, Macdonald said he was feeling physically fine despite being about to head into his 16th month of rugby in a row.

It started with the Highlanders in January last year and is still going now with his Welsh team, Gwent Newport Dragons, where he has been used mainly as a blindside flanker. He has had time for a two-week break in Invercargill, which will include watching his old team the Highlanders take on the Chiefs at Rugby Park, in Invercargill, on Saturday night.

"That's something I've been looking forward to since I knew I was coming back."

He's quite not sure, however, just how he's going to get on following the progress of the Air New Zealand Cup later this year.

"Watching the Stags is going to be tough. Last season was probably my most enjoyable season, not because of the on-field stuff, but we had a great bunch of guys who got along so well. It will be interesting not being there and part of it," he said.

Some rugby clubs in Europe have struggled to meet player payments recently.

Macdonald said he hadn't had any indications it has struck the Dragons.

"They are still trying to sign players so I don't think there's any problems," he said.

Macdonald has signed through to next year in Wales and said he would assess his options after that.

logan.savory@stl.co.nz

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- The Southland Times

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