Elliot making up for more lost time with Chiefs
Hika Elliot has been through mill more than most in his rugby career but that has only made him hungry to continue to achieve for his Chiefs' side in Investec Super Rugby this year.
Back playing after it appeared a neck injury had ended his playing days in 2013, Elliot had the frustration of 13 weeks standing down over the summer due to concussion.
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It was tough. That was a lot of pre-season training time missed.
"I was out for 13 weeks and I was on next to nothing, I wasn't allowed to watch TV, I wasn't allowed to exercise. The only thing keeping me sane was my diet – I had to try and keep in shape just by dieting because I couldn't do any gym work either so that was pretty tough," he said.
That put him behind the eight-ball in terms of fitness preparation.
It had been frustrating to go through the time out of the game. He felt he had played well last year and not being able to get himself in the shape he wanted before the start of the season had been tough.
"It was frustrating given the responsibility I have as a leader in this team and not being able to contribute to the team both on and off the field in any way was really tough," he said.
But in typical Elliot fashion, he made a dramatic comeback. He had only one week of intensive training before getting on the field for the Chiefs development side.
"That was quite tough on the body. I'm not getting any younger so I suppose that made it a lot tougher as well."
But no sooner having played for the development side on a Wednesday than he got the call to get on a plane to join the Chiefs in South Africa where they were to play the Kings.
"My first game was against the Kings. I flew over there, got there on the Saturday morning and I was playing Saturday afternoon, so that was a tough introduction for Super Rugby this year for me.
"It's taken a little while to find my feet but I'm getting there," he said. "To be back playing and getting some good minutes is really good."
Sitting on top of the points table has been achieved in spite of a horrendous run of injuries, something that may be partially alleviated with the possible return of Charlie Ngatai and Michael Allardice this week.
But a good win over the Sharks in New Plymouth last week, where the side's scrum achieved a turnaround, had set the side up for a big game with the Highlanders on Saturday in Hamilton.
"These are the sort of clashes you live for and get up for as a footy player. They've had the wood on us the last couple of seasons and they gave us a towelling down in Invercargill last year and obviously beat us in that play-off game.
"They're coming up here to our territory and we're expecting big things and hopefully on the night we can deliver a good performance," he said.
"People have talked about the injuries we have had both before the season and during it, but we seem to keep on winning.
"The last three weeks we have played some really good teams. We haven't been at our best but we have been winning those tight games and that's what builds character in a team."
Elliot said the scrum had not been performing as well as would have been liked, but there was improvement last week against the Sharks who were a tough pack and he was proud of the advances the pack had made.