Tawera Kerr-Barlow raring to go for the Chiefs
The body is sore and the lungs are burning, but Tawera Kerr-Barlow couldn't be happier to be back in training with the Chiefs.
After completing the unbeaten season with the All Blacks on their European Tour last year, Kerr-Barlow had an extended break before returning to Chiefs camp last week.
It took some adjusting getting back into training, having to back up each day on the training field, but he said he missed the work and his team mates.
"I came in first day Monday last week and did our fitness testing and that, and the body was pretty sore after a couple of days, not used to backing up three trainings in a row.
"It's good to be back with the boys. I kind of missed them over the break."
The 23-year-old kept a base fitness over the off season, but admits it was hard kicking back into training with most of the squad several weeks ahead.
"Still a bit stiff in some places, but I'll be right in a month or so.
"You try to have a proper sort of break, but try to come in in the best nick you can."
Kerr-Barlow forms one half of the Chiefs vital halfback-first-five combination alongside Aaron Cruden, and said he is pleased for his mate that he is now the Chiefs co-captain.
He said the duo try to work together to lead the team, Kerr-Barlow with the forwards, and Cruden pulling the back line strings.
"We have a pretty good relationship, and obviously being halfback and first five we're close knit," he said.
"It couldn't go to a more deserving bloke. He's been a leader from the day that he got here really, and I'm sure him and Liam will carry on from where Craig and Liam left off."
New Zealand is flush with talented young halfbacks, with Kerr-Barlow battling the likes of Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara for an All Blacks spot.
Despite that competition, Kerr-Barlow said he aims to perform for the Chiefs, and let the representative rugby sort itself out.
"I really enjoy the environment. Everyone dreams of being an All Black when they're a young fella.
"At the moment I'm just focused on playing for the Chiefs ... and we want to win another championship obviously, so doing everything we can to accomplish that.
"If we go well, hopefully things follow on from that."
Kerr-Barlow and the Chiefs will get their first taste of preseason match practice this weekend, playing the Reds in Toowoomba, Queensland on Saturday.