UPDATE: \"It's changed how I feel about rugby\" - Force recruit Kahui re-energised by Super Rugby AU opportunity

Tue, Jul 14, 2020, 3:16 AM
Beth Newman
by Beth Newman
After seven years in Japan with the Toshiba Brave Lupus, former All Black Richard Kahui has signed on with the Western Force for the Super Rugby AU season.

Richard Kahui was sitting on the beach with his son nearly two weeks ago when his phone rang.

Less than a week later, the World Cup-winning All Black was training for a Super Rugby AU stint with the Western Force.

After seven years in Japan with the Toshiba Brave Lupus, the 35-year-old returned to Queensland in April in the wake of the Top League's cancellation, waiting out the months until the 2021 season was confirmed.

"I was at the beach with my son and I got a phone call from my manager asking, 'Do you have any interest in playing for the Western Force?', I think that was the Wednesday two weeks ago and by Friday they said, 'We want you to come,' and I was asked to make a decision," he said.

"In the recent years, I've played rugby to support my family and look after our future and I thought as I'm coming to the back end, I'd love to play for a club that really stands for something and in a competition I really love.

"This opportunity's popped up at a perfect time, it's close to home for me, my family's going to come and join me which. It's hard being away form home in Japan. It really happened quickly, literally from the first call to when I turned up here maybe five days."

"So it happened rather quickly but it's given me all the excitement becasue it's all been jammed into such a little amount of time.

"I've had to work pretty hard to try and get back to that sort of game fitness, the coaching staff have got a plan for me to get me back on the field and how we go about it."

Kahui has been playing with Japanese side the Toshiba Brave Lupus for the past seven years after starting his career with the Chiefs in Super Rugby.

Though he admits he's in the "back end" of his career, Kahui is adamant he is not just with the Force to be a mentor, he wants to push for a matchday spot as soon as possible.

"I want to come in and perform on the field," he said.

"I want to be the guy we can turn to to play 80 minutes and that can help direct a side to winning Super Rugby Australia."

Returning to a Super Rugby environment has also re-energised Kahui, who admits his focus in the most recent stage of his career has been on setting his family up as much as on-field enjoyment.

"Being back in this environment has really changed how I felt about rugby," he said.

"Japan has been really great and I've loved it and it's been my home but obviously being a second language you miss a bit of stuff, the small talk and things like that.

"So, to be back in a Super environment and a team like this where, I don't know if I've been in a team where there's no little groups, there's always a little group or I think everyone's really one team here, everyone's really connected, there's a really good culture, a really good culture of hard work and it's really made me excited about playing footy.

"I haven't lost that excitement but it's just different and something I haven't done for a long time.

"I remember back to my days in Super Rugby in new Zealand, I absolutely loved it and I see this as another really great opportunity for me to grow as a player."

Kahui was part of the Chiefs' 2012 Super Rugby-winning title and played 17 Tests for the All Blacks, including featuring in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Force head of rugby Matt Hodgson said Kahui would bring some valuable experience to the group.

“With 68 Super Rugby caps and a number of domestic and international honours to his name, Kahui is another quality signing for us,” he said.

“His knowledge of the game, defensive ability and the level of professionalism he brings to training will be huge for our season, we can’t wait to see him out there in the blue and black.

“It’s not just his on-field exploits that we’re excited about, as his insight and winning mentality are sure to prove invaluable for the entire team."

Kahui, whose family are based in Queensland, has already joined the WA side in the Hunter Valley having served a two-week quarantine period.

The Force take on the Reds at Suncorp Stadium on Friday July 10, kicking off at 5:05pm AWST, 7:05pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Buy tickets here.

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