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NZ rugby lifestyle key for All Blacks - Thrush

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Lynn McConnell     14 Nov 2015     Getty Images

Speaking with the Gloucester Citizen ahead of his first game for Gloucester in the Premiership, Thrush had that point hit home to him when his family returned to New Zealand after a five-year stint living in Canada.

He had tried his hand in local sport but without significant success.

There was some contact with the local rugby but he said it wasn't until returning to New Zealand that he started playing properly.

He soon slipped into the rugby culture where he always found himself with a ball in hand, and every spare moment was spent playing with a ball or playing touch rugby.

"The way we grow up is with a rugby ball. After school every day we go and play touch rugby, or even tackling, but we always had a rugby ball in our hands.

"Some of those skills you see, players in New Zealand just grow up with them. They are bred into you. You don't see many kids playing football.

"Then we have a big focus on skills, catch-pass and not so much the weights. We don't get into weights until we're in the academies and then the style of rugby is very fast.

"You are more lean muscle than bulk, so if you can't keep up, or don't have the skills, you will be found out pretty soon," he said.

While with Gloucester, Thrush will be looking to use his experience to help local players in the way that he benefited in his own career.

"When I was younger, I looked up to the likes of Christian Cullen and Tana Umaga, they were legends in Wellington.

"Jerry Collins, Rodney So'oialo, players like that, I was lucky they were still there when I came through. To play with guys like that was a dream come true.

"I love seeing guys come through. One of the best things about coming back to the ITM Cup after the disappointment of [missing] the World Cup was playing with guys like Reg Goodes and Brad Shields who have become household names.

"They didn't need too much help but for me to give them a push in the right direction was awesome, especially when you see where they are now," he said.

While missing the World Cup had been disappointing, Thrush said it was part and parcel of professional rugby.

"They went for three specialists and had a few flankers who could slot in. I've been in that environment for three years. I know everyone and understand why they selected the squad like they did," he said.

Having arrived in Gloucester he said he wanted to get his head down, to work hard and to play some good rugby.

"Longer term, I want to see this team go as far as possible. I didn't come here to relax and put my feet up. I want to help the club improve," he said.