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De Groot focused on Super Rugby success

De Groot focused on Super Rugby success

All BlacksFebruary 15, 2024

Twenty-two Test loosehead prop Ethan de Groot has not brooded over the All Blacks finishing runners-up at last year's World Cup and will hit the ground running when the Highlanders play their final DHL Super Rugby Pacific warm-up game with the Crusaders on Friday.

De Groot said he had enjoyed his break after a big 2023 and returning from the Rugby World Cup in France.

He said he hadn't dwelled on the loss in the World Cup final. Instead, he was proud of the effort and being in the final.

"Not many people can say that, and I'm going to have another crack. Hopefully, I'm going to be around long enough to play in two more.

It was a case of playing well every year for the Highlanders to put himself in a position to be selected for the All Blacks, and that was his focus at the moment.

He had been back on site at the Highlanders' training base earlier than required, but he said he had done what he wanted to do on his break and didn't like training alone.

"I can't have too much time off; I need to be doing something. I sat at home for a couple of weeks, and I was over it.

"I think it's just the habits and the standards I am used to, especially up a level, trying to bring them back down here and showing a bit more of a leadership role this year, which is exciting."

Reflecting on his red card at the World Cup, which he was disappointed about, he said the longer-term view was that while it was a negative at the time, it had turned into a positive.

"I got smoked by the trainers for a couple of weeks and came back after my two-game ban into finals footy the best I have ever felt playing rugby. I played 70 minutes in the quarterfinal and the final, so I'm happy with where I got to there."

He didn't do it alone, and he acknowledged that trainer Nic Gill, forwards coach Jason Ryan, and mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka had turned him 'into a bit of a weapon.'

The experience had shown him how quickly it was possible to go from hero to zero, with the resulting social media leaving him feeling people had turned their back on him. But the support within the team had been comforting.

It had been strange to sit down at the All Blacks' first camp in Auckland in January without the Whitelocks and other players who seemed to have been around for so long.

"It's a bit of a new feel, new coaching staff and I'm excited for that aspect. I'm looking forwared to what Razor [coach Scott Robertson] conjures up."

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