Kaino looks ahead to next chapter in career

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Fresh from Toulouse's 18-8 win over La Rochelle to win the French championship, for the second time with the side, Kaino said he was thankful he ended his playing career on his terms.


He told Midi Olympique it was when crossing the paint to take the field for the last time that the emotion of the occasion hit him. During the week, he had concentrated on being ready for the final. But running onto the field had been moving.


"There was my family in the stadium as well. It was really loud, and the ending was perfect.


"There are so many players who cannot choose when they end their careers, whether because of injuries, or other factors out of their control. I am so lucky to finish my career with this title, and as I wanted," he said.


Kaino said his immediate thought was to spend some time with his family, and to absorb the end of his career, and the success, during the summer.


"I have six weeks of holiday to think about it and to look back on my career.


"I want to take the time to weigh the experiences I have had before passing them on to the young players.


"I've seen a lot of good players switch overnight into training without transitioning.


"Just because you're good on the field doesn't mean you'll be good on the coaching bench," he said.



While he wouldn't miss the nerves before going onto the field as a player, he knows other experiences as a coach lie ahead.


"I will no longer have control over things. Coaches have a role to play during the week before a game. But, after that, it is up to the players. I will miss being able to get onto the field and having an impact.


"It will be a new challenge, but one that excites me," he said.


Five coaches had influenced his career - All Blacks' coaches Steve Hansen, Graham Henry and Wayne Smith, while scrum coach Mike Cron, and former Blues coach Pat Lam, were the others.


"They were not only great trainers, but also great men, who have taught me so much during my career," he said.


The Rugby World Cup win with the All Blacks in 2011 had been a special point in his career.


"The final (an 8-7 win against France) was very tough. It was a really special game in terms of working hard and having some good luck," he said.


"It is the dream of all children in New Zealand to be able to play for the All Blacks. Wearing the jersey was a dream come true, especially in my home stadium, in my home town."


Kaino said he felt French rugby had some good years ahead, and he had been impressed by the young players around him at Toulouse.


"Being able to be at the heart of this will remain something special. I'm very proud of that.


"If I have to remember only one thing from this whole adventure, it is the strength of this group. It is so united, welded," he said.


One of his priorities would be working on improving his French. While understanding when people talk to him in French, he finds he can't answer properly.


"My 12-year-old daughter is learning two languages, French and Spanish. I think I can learn one," he said.


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