No player was happier to be out on the field for the Chiefs in yesterday's 40-minute practice hit-outs against Counties-Manukau and Bay of Plenty in Hamilton than Tim Nanai-Williams.
So much so that the talented young utility back admits he was nervous as he made his comeback from a groin injury and stomach ulcer at Waikato Stadium.
Nanai-Williams got through the first 40 minutes against the Counties Steelers before the coaches decided that was enough for his first outing as they precede with caution for the player who has become a sensation at centre this Super Rugby season.
"It's good to be back," said Nanai-Williams. "It's been five to six weeks since I played my last game so I'm happy to be out there but I'm a bit rusty at the moment so I'll try and get a club game this weekend and go from there.
"I woke up quite nervous this morning just because I haven't played in a few weeks, but I was excited to put on the boots and get out there. It felt real good."
The centre tried to convince the coaches he should also play the first 10 minutes of the second game against Bay of Plenty but admits he has to be careful not to aggravate the groin injury that appears to have settled down thanks to the enforced rest brought about by his ulcer.
"I've done a lot of hard week over the last two weeks while the boys have had their holdiday and hopefully it stays good for next week's game [against the Hurricanes on Friday, June 28 in Hamilton].
"It all comes down to how much training I have under my belt, just making sure the groin's right before that game and I'm just working on my rehab with the medicos and coaches to get it right because if I get it wrong I'm basically out for that game."
The ulcer stemmed from internal damage caused by a childhood virus and then irritated by the anti-inflammatory medication he was taking for his groin injury.
No 8 Fritz Lee and lock Romana Graham were other players who returned from injuries to play for the Chiefs yesterday.
For the record the Chiefs battled to a 12-5 win in the first 40-minute game against the Steelers, all kicks at goal abandoned after the opening try was converted by Robbie Robinson, and 25-0 against the Steamers.
Bay of Plenty and Counties Manukau played each other in another 40-minute game at the end of it, a clash that was temporarily interrupted by a violent hail and rain storm.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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