The second-year blues has infected its fair share of players, but Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick has a simple philosophy on how he's going to beat it in this season's Super Rugby campaign.
The 2.04-metre, 115kg ball-snaffling giant had a sensational year in 2012, debuting for the Chiefs and playing 17 of their 18 games in a championship-winning season and receiving an All Blacks callup, where he featured in all but one of their 14 tests.
The 21-year-old shot to prominence with his efficient lineout work and a super ability to get around the field and play an effective role in hitting an abundance of rucks.
He has now established himself as one of the top three locks in the country, alongside the Crusaders duo of Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano.
But after a stellar year, Retallick now has no place to hide and opponents will no doubt have studied his game.
However, he describes that as "just another challenge" and something which will no doubt make him a more accomplished player.
"I just want to be better," Retallick said. "I think that's all the motivation I need, really."
Retallick, along with the other All Blacks in the Chiefs' squad, returned to training on Monday and he has been working hard in the searing sunshine to catch up on his team-mates. "It was certainly a wee bit of a shock to the system last night [Monday]. I was pretty tired, but it's good to be back running round on the field again," he said.
Retallick was relieved to take his two-month break from rugby and he used his downtime to relax and catch up with family and friends, as well as reflect on his success.
"I think by the end of [the season] it had started to take its toll on the body a bit, so [the break] definitely came at the right time.
"I had a bit of a look back once the season was finished. I didn't expect for it to happen like it did so now it's just going back out there and trying to do it all again and earn my spot back in the All Blacks and keep playing well for the Chiefs."
Retallick is now looking to chip away at his "work-ons" to try to become the "total package". Another decent season from him will go a long way to securing the Chiefs front-foot ball to attack from as they search for back to back titles.
Not that last year's triumph is lingering in too many minds at Chiefs trainings at the moment.
"There's a few new guys that weren't part of the team last year or were playing for other franchises, so I don't think they're reminiscing on last year too much.
It's all about this year and trying to do it all again," Retallick said. "Just back to square one and building our way back to putting some good performances out there."
The Chiefs' first preseason hit-out is on Saturday against the Highlanders in Taupo, however none of the All Blacks will be taking part just yet, with other warmup outings to follow against the Reds in the Sunshine Coast and against the Hurricanes in Mangatainoka.
"Hopefully I get a run next week and get a trip to Aussie ... but I'll just have to wait and see how it plays out I think," Retallick said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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