All Blacks back in training
Auckland - While for many New Zealanders the euphoria of winning the 2011 Rugby World Cup is still evident - and perhaps it will be for another four years - it was back to business for the bulk of the victorious World Cup winning squad on Monday as they returned to their respective Super Rugby squads.
According to the allblacks.com website
, all of the New Zealand franchises began training last year, but the All Blacks contingent took a well deserved holiday after a 12-Test season that wrapped up with an 8-7 World Cup final triumph over a determined French outfit at Eden Park.
There were notable exceptions of typically keen All Blacks breaking their holiday plans, with Victor Vito and Cory Jane taking part in the torturous 24km run-bike-run (1km, 21km, 2km) from Lyall Bay in Wellington for the Hurricanes.
Vito, showing impressive fitness despite being on break, finished middle of the Hurricanes squad, while Jane came last.
"Stuffed," said Jane back in December.
"I started my pre-season (training) on Friday so I hadn't done anything for a while and this has blown me out. I wasn't familiar with bikes and hill running."
Meanwhile other players were chomping at the bit, with Aaron Cruden taking part in some Chiefs sessions, while new assistant coach Wayne Smith linked up with his new troops in Hamilton before Christmas to take part in some early sessions.
Victorious World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw is still recovering after having his infamous screw removed from his foot, but recent reports confirm that the skipper is recovering well, despite taking part in promotional activities that saw him in England and France over the Christmas break - appearing at Harrods in London while he took part in a French TV show alongside Ali Williams, Israel Dagg and Sam Whitelock.
However Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder confirmed McCaw would be present at the Crusaders first training run on Monday, although he won't take part.
Dan Carter, one of three All Blacks to tie the knot over the holidays (alongside Williams and Jerome Kaino) continues to rehabilitate from his groin injury.
Piri Weepu took part in his first training session with the Blues, while the other high profile recruit for the three-time champions in Ma'a Nonu will link back up with the franchise in the coming months, still playing in Japan with the Ricoh Black Rams.