Andrew Horrell might only have played the final 10 minutes of the Chiefs' clash with the Hurricanes last weekend, but after 10 weeks out it was enough to make him feel he's back where he belongs.
Now the talented utility back is hungry for more and determined to push for selection despite the Chiefs' backline having a settled look to it.
Horrell is pretty keen for that extra game time this Friday night against the Crusaders - a game the former Christchurch man has been targeting for a while.
After damaging three ligaments in a bad lower ankle sprain while playing fullback against the Waratahs back in April, Horrell has fought back to fitness impressively. At first he thought he had broken his ankle while medical staff expected the damage would require surgery.
However, x-rays and scans quickly revealed a more optimistic prognosis and instead the versatile Hawke's Bay representative spent time in a moonboot trying to maintain whatever fitness he could while watching from the sidelines.
''It's good to be back as part of the team because it's pretty lonely out there when you're just doing the gym work and fitness by yourself,'' Horrell said.''You still feel part of the team but you're not really contributing. All you can do is hold tackle bags and things like that so the best feeling is being with the boys back out on the field again.''
He was initially brought into the Chiefs last year as a back-up first and second five-eighth but ended up starting 10 games at either fullback or centre, where he became a key performer. He also started both last year's semifinal and final at centre, but this year he sees himself as either a second-five or fullback.
''Most of the boys are playing pretty good footy which is great to see but if there's injuries or something and I get a chance I've got to make sure I take it or all this rehab has been for nothing.''
Unfortunately other injured backs like Tim Nanai-Williams have also returned to fitness at the same time he has, meaning there are not too many openings.
''I still obviously back myself but when the boys are playing well it's kind of hard to push in, but I've just got to bide my time and hope for the best really.
''I've been looking forward to this [Crusaders] game the whole season so hopefully I can be in the team in some area. I'm originally from Christchurch and would really love to play in this game.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
Should there be golden point extra time in Super Rugby?Related story: (See story)