Fresh outlook as Fruean chases ABs spot

MATT MARKHAM
Last updated 05:00 20/02/2013

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Crusaders centre Robbie Fruean is determined to lose the "flat-track bully" title and earn some respect during this year's Super Rugby competition.

Fresh from a long break after a busy 2012, in which he played almost every minute for the Crusaders and Canterbury, Fruean has decided that if he is to be a contender for an All Blacks spot, he needs to set short-term goals.

"I've changed my mindset," Fruean said.

"I've kind of really taken things day by day and week by week and am just trying to focus on what I'm trying to do and making sure I'm doing my job for the Crusaders. And really just trying to enjoy playing rugby.

"I'm hungry for it and just can't wait to hit it with a bang."

The bulky centre was named the NPC's best player last year, a title which increases expectations heading into a Super Rugby season - especially when you are still monitoring a serious heart condition.

"The heart is all fine, all 100 per cent healthy.

"So it's just a case of training really hard and continuing to chip away at some of the fitness programmes that I have in place and making sure my diet plans are going accordingly and that I take medication every morning.

"We have a new game plan this year and all the boys are still adjusting, but it's slowly starting to take shape and hopefully by next week we should be really starting to hit our straps."

Fruean also welcomed attack coach Aaron Mauger's admission that Israel Dagg may switch to centre, stating he welcomed the challenge. Centre has been a position which has gone largely unopposed during Fruean's tenure in red and black.

"I look back on the way I have played to date, and I have played my best rugby when I have someone chasing me," Fruean said.

"For me it was a more of a reality check, and reminded me that not everything is as promised."

Richard Kahui's departure to Japan has not gone unnoticed by Fruean, who is aware the All Blacks may be shopping for a new centre as a backup to Conrad Smith.

"You have to think about whether or not it gives you an opportunity; you would be silly not to [think so]."

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