Jack aware of challenges to get back into Crusaders   28 Dec 2009

ALL BLACKS - Chris Jack, the 31 year old who has just completed stints with Saracens and Western Province, expects no favours and knows he will need fight to get back into the Crusaders, let alone the All Blacks.

Some believe that lock has had the least depth in New Zealand rugby in recent years, but this will not be the case in 2010.

 

At the Crusaders, Jack will join arguably the country’s leading second row forward Brad Thorn as well as 2009 All Black Isaac Ross.

This is in addition to Ali Williams, Tom Donnelly, Bryn Evans, Jason Eaton and Anthony Boric. Add to this an outstanding collection of locks such as Kevin O’Neill, Sam Whitelock, Craig Clarke, Kurtis Haiu and Jeremy Thrush – and one wonders if New Zealand rugby has ever had their stocks of big men so well supplied.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder believes that Jack has returned to New Zealand with the ultimate goal of again wearing the cherished black.

But the man himself believes the first challenge will be getting into the Crusaders starting team.

"There’s lots of questions and lots of things you worry about, at the same time the coaches obviously see something in me that they want," Jack said to local paper The Press.

“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 though would not be the first “elder statesman” to attempt to force his way back into Crusaders colours, with both Brad Thorn and Leon MacDonald able to resume their All Black careers after stints off shore.

Can he achieve this, looking to Thorn for motivation?

"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."

"[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."

As for the All Blacks, Jack did acknowledge that the jersey and the approaching 2011 World Cup do hold unfinished business.

"I played two [2003 and 2007 World Cups] 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."

"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."

Source: All Blacks

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