Settled Gear rising to challenges

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Lynn McConnell     27 May 2015     Getty Images

As the former Test player catches up for lost time after his return to the Chiefs there have been reminders of the power and speed that Gear brought to his game when at his peak.

While he made the left wing his own during his earlier years, he has been playing on the right for the Chiefs but has shown little indication that it is a problem for him.

That's hardly surprising given, as he points out, he made his Test debut on the right wing and has played there often enough to be able to cope.

However, while others ponder whether he might return to international play, Gear's own mind is on securing a starting spot with the Chiefs on a regular basis.

Making the readjustment to Super Rugby had not been as easy as hoped and Gear admitted going through a frustrating patch upon his return from Japan and said he had to take a step back and look at the overall picture.

It wasn't so much about coping with the demands of the speed of Super Rugby as he felt the Japanese game was a little quicker but more about getting used to the Chiefs game plan.

"It was more organisational stuff, about getting in the right place at the right time and fitting in where I could and doing what was best for the team," he said.

A few niggling injuries hadn't helped but they are behind him now and it is evident in his involvement in games that he is much more attuned to the team requirements.

Having experience with the Hurricanes and the Highlanders from earlier in his career he said he has found the Chiefs culture and environment strong, and while the other sides had their own cultures, the Chiefs had a foundation that he could relate to.

"Renns [coach Dave Rennie] and the leaders are good," he said.

Gear has noticed that while players coming into sides are getting younger and younger, they appeared to be better equipped to cope with the demands of professional rugby.

"A lot of players hold a lot of responsibility now. Here at the Chiefs it is the players who drive a lot of our meetings and that is probably the way it is going to go in the future," he said.

Gear still holds a determination to play Test rugby but is well aware there are no guarantees and for the moment any hopes will be determined by his ability to get more game time with the Chiefs.

"It's the nature of the game, New Zealand has always been renowned for always having good outside backs," he said.

The Chiefs hopes of tying up a home venue for the play-offs will depend on how they finish the season and the Highlanders in Invercargill represent a significant hurdle. The Chiefs have prepared well this week, Gear said, but they were aware the Highlanders have travelled pretty well, and have played well when away from home.

The most graphic example of that was their win in Hamilton over the Chiefs.

"It is a massive challenge for us but we thrive on those. We have a few injuries but there are challenges there every week, and that excites us," he said.