All Black and Chiefs centre Richard Kahui hopes to enjoy an injury free 2013 after missing most of last season due to a shoulder injury.
Kahui dislocated his shoulder against the Reds in Brisbane last May, and while the initial outlook was positive, the injury saw him go under the knife and miss the remainder of the year.
Although there is a good chance that the midfielder will be fit for the defending champions’ first match of the season against the Highlanders in Dunedin on February 22, Kahui said he won’t rush his return.
"It [the shoulder] feels great but I'm still maybe a month or so away from really digging into some real contact," Kahui told the Waikato Times.
"I said to the coaches we've got the time to give it a little bit more time and do a little bit more rehab and strengthening up so I think we'll take that time. But otherwise everything feels great and it's just great to be back doing some actual rugby training."
Kahui is hopeful that his bad luck with injuries is a thing of the past and that he can get back to playing the type of rugby that has earned him 16 Test caps for the All Blacks.
"The last couple of times I've come back I've been in better nick than when I left so if I can do that again that will be great," he said.
"I talked to the surgeon about how we strap and do this and that but he said there is not really much else you can do, other than what I am doing.
"Obviously I have weaker shoulders or something, but just really a lot of bad luck and hopefully in the year of 2013 that luck is going to change."
Kahui will be the franchise’s senior centre following the departure of Sonny Bill Williams to Japan last year, but the 27-year-old feels as if the Chiefs have brand new midfield stocks.
"With me coming back from injury it's like having three new midfielders and both Charlie [Ngatai] and Bundee [Aki] had really good ITM Cups and are two lads with a lot of potential and a lot of talent," Kahui said.
"I'm getting as much from them as I think they will from me and training with them, just their energy and things like that.
"There's no doubt we'll miss Sonny, he was a real key figure in the success last year, but I think that just gives the rest of us a real good challenge to push each other really hard to be as good as we can be."
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