The arrival of Nick Crosswell at the Chiefs could be seen as being almost inevitable.
The 1.95-metre, 110-kilogram loose forward exudes the very principles the Chiefs have been based on since former Manawatu coach Dave Rennie arrived to take over the franchise's head coaching role ahead of last season - hard work and good character.
And as a Manawatu Turbo since 2006 with over 50 matches for the province, Crosswell is well acquainted with Rennie and his coaching methods.
"Knowing Rens from the past he knows how to build a good culture in a side and that's one of the first things I see here," Crosswell said.
"It was no surprise to me that they had the success they did last year and the culture behind it, while Tom [Coventry] and Straws [Andrew Strawbridge] and Smithy [Wayne Smith] as well, they're similar guys [to Rennie].
"They really emphasise that culture thing yet doing the hard work that comes with it."
After one season with the Hurricanes and two at the Highlanders under Jamie Joseph, Crosswell jumped at the chance to join Rennie and several of his Manawatu team-mates at the Chiefs, even though there is always trepidation in changing teams.
"Coming from the deep south to up here I was a bit nervous, especially after they had such a good season last year, but the boys have been fantastic.
"They've got a fantastic culture here and have been really welcoming so I've really enjoyed my first two weeks."
Having been in the Maori All Blacks team that toured Britain, Crosswell missed the two-week pre-Christmas Chiefs training camp and, like a number of others, has a lot to pack in during the few weeks before the season's start.
He has for the most part concentrated on playing blindside flanker, but he also has some experience at No 8, particularly for Manawatu, and realises his best bet for a starting position might be there, as Liam Messam is firmly established as the Chiefs' and All Blacks' blindsider.
As a result he has been working on various areas of the No 8 role and hopes to get a chance to show his wares in the important trial games.
"While they are pre-season games, for many of us it's our opportunity to show what we've got and what we're bringing.
"I'll give eight a crack and try and put my hand up and go for there, but it's just about pushing for a starting spot anywhere for me. That's what I plan to do - just work my butt off - and if that's not to be then work my butt off to get on the bench."
Crosswell relishes the Chiefs mantra of hard work - he's that sort of player.
"There's no disguising that it takes hard work and that's a lot of what we're doing at the moment - just putting your head down and getting stuck in, doing that work that needs to be done.
"I love that side of footy, I think it's a real test of character and stretches you to know your personal boundaries."
Crosswell is already finding his Chiefs experience a lot different to what he's had in the past and admits it has tested his endurance and resolve.
"It's really stretched me but I'm really loving it," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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