New Zealand winger Rico Gear has conceded he may have to put his long-term fitness ahead of regular appearances in his province’s debut season.
Tasman Makos, a new province formed by a merger including Gear’s former Nelson Bays team, started their Air New Zealand Cup campaign this week.
But the winger will sit out the first part of their campaign after being forced to miss some recent national team training sessions because of a persistent hamstring injury.
"It holds me back a bit," he told stuff.co.nz. "I have to be pretty careful with how I manage it. It’s an on-going injury I have had for the past three or so years, which is annoying.
"So I will have to weigh any decision with what the bosses say about what sort of workload I’m able to take on board.
"But I’m keen to play a part when I get my chance. Most of the boys look forward to playing for their provinces and I’m no different. It would be good to play for the new team."
Gear was named as New Zealand’s Super 12 player of the year in 2005 but has struggled to recreate that form as he battles to shake off his fitness worries.
Nevertheless, he is confident of finding his form again, saying: "Sometimes you can go through a game without touching the ball so I just want to get my hands on it and be a threat all over the paddock.
"I just want to get my hands on the ball as much as I can and then things will start to happen for me."