Jack coy on Kiwi comeback

2009-12-27 13:10
Chris Jack (File)
Christchurch - Veteran All Blacks lock Chris Jack isn't expecting to be rushed straight back into the All Blacks fold and says getting a game for his 'new-old' team, the Crusaders in next year's Super 14, might be the biggest challenge on his comeback trail.

The 31-year-old joined English club Saracens after the 2007 World Cup in France and, most recently, appeared for Western Province in the Currie Cup competition.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has no doubts that Jack has returned home with All Blacks aspirations, but the player himself just wants to get up to speed with the Crusaders ahead of the 2010 Super 14.

"There are lots of questions and lots of things you worry about, (but) at the same time the coaches obviously see something in me that they want," Jack told The Press.

He added: "I've obviously got a lot of experience and it might not necessarily mean I play a big role on the field, but off the field I could be good for the team.

"There's two All Black locks (Brad Thorn and Isaac Ross) there at the moment and young Sam Whitelock emerging, so I'd be pretty arrogant if I thought I'd be going straight back into a starting spot.

"I realise that I've come to one of the hardest franchises in which to get a starting spot and I hope I get a chance, and when I get that chance I'm going to give it my best shot.

"All I can do is play the best rugby I can and if that's good enough, that's good enough. My role will be determined as we go on and whether I'll be more of a mentor to Sam and Isaac or I'll be out there playing, I'm not sure."

He takes comfort in the fact that former team-mates Thorn and Leon MacDonald have been able to resume their All Black careers after stints overseas.

"Absolutely," he said. "Let's be honest, Brad's an inspiration to anyone over 30. He's now my hero and I'm hoping I can now get another five years out of my career," Jack added, jokingly.

"(No), but the man is amazing. It's great to see that this franchise is looking after guys of age and they want to carry on playing here because they feel looked after and feel like there's space for them."

Jack might be determined to talk himself down but he did concede that the 2011 World Cup represented an opportunity to tidy up some unfinished business.

"I played two (2003 and 2007) and I'm still not getting over the first, let alone the second," he said.

"As a player you go there expecting to win and not to do that is extremely disappointing. It's on the world stage and everyone sees your disappointment and it's something you can't live down and, no matter how hard you try, you can't change it," he admitted.

"I just didn't want to finish my career thinking I didn't have another chance and part of the decision (to come home) was that I couldn't give myself a chance while I was playing in Europe."


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