Richard Kahui has made a succesful return to Super Rugby following 10 months on the sidelines with a shoulder injury. Against the Reds he showed that the shoulder is strong again, and if he stays fit we may well see him playing for the All Blacks vs France.
The Reds scored four tries to two to beat the Chiefs 31-23 in Waikato, but it was Kahui who put in the hit of the match as he smashed Ben Tapuai.
Kahui read play well and lined up Tapuai, hitting him just as the Reds centre offloaded on the inside. It looked a bit high in the replay perhaps, but there was a lot of shoulder on chest, and it was definitely one of the biggest hits of the season either way.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will have taken note of Kahui’s performance ahead of the three match Test series with France in June. While Kahui is heading off to Japan at the end of the season, he may well be selected to play in the midfield, or if Hansen has his way, as cover on the wing.
“Personally I think his best position internationally is on the wing,” Hansen said recently.
“His skills set is such that he’s great under the high ball. He’s a big ball carrier and he gets the opportunity on the wing to roam. He’s a great counter attacker and he’s got a good boot. As a back-three player he’s ideal. That doesn’t rule him out from being a midfielder, either, because he’s high quality there too.”
The 27-year-old says that he’d like to be part of the 2015 Rugby World Cup setup too, but acknowledges that he’ll need to work hard to make sure he is still on top of his game. “The level of rugby, while it’s not bad, is not Super Rugby, and you can easily fall behind with your skills.
“If it happens I come back and give that World Cup a crack, I’m going to have to make sure over the time I’m away that I’m playing really well and working hard in the gym and other areas so I don’t fall behind,” he said, adding that if not pushed to the highest standard, it could be a problem.
“They’re open to foreign players coming back, but there’s a huge risk factor for guys that go away.”
The huge hit is below. Do you think Kahui should play for the All Blacks this year?