Māori All Black fullback Shaun Stevenson can't wait to get back on the field with the Chiefs tomorrow.
He's been named to start at fullback for the Chiefs against the Highlanders, and he's keen to pass on what he picked up on the Māori tour to the Americas, and help the Chiefs win another title.
Stevenson is predicting a good old fashioned New Zealand derby to kick things off, "We've had two pre-season games and blown out the cobwebs," he says, "It should be a humdinger of a game on Friday night."
Injury kept Stevenson off the field for much of last season, however he worked his way back to form with North Harbour in the Mitre 10 Cup, which earned him selection to the Māori All Blacks tour to Chicago, Brazil and Chile. He wants to bring that experience to the Chiefs, saying it was great to play expansive rugby over there, "I guess that was one of my motivations this year is to just go out there and just play footy. Try put my hand for this team, and first of all get some exciting footy into the Chiefs," he says.
Stevenson is pleased with all the benefits he was able to gain with the Māori All Blacks during Novembers tour, which wasn't limited to the football field, "We'd have a couple of classroom sessions about our heritage and our spiritual side. So it was awesome to learn a bit more about that side. Obviously, it's only a short three-week tour, but you just try cram in as much as possible and learn as much as you can," the speedster says.
It's been six years since the Chiefs last won a Super Rugby title. Stevenson believes the current squad has what it takes to emulate that success, "boys are pretty excited and obviously that 2012/2013 team that went back to back, we tr toy take some things that they took into that year. All we ask about is effort and attitude and working hard for your brothers," he says.
The Chiefs latest quest for another Super Rugby title begins tonight in Hamilton.