Richard Kahui’s career comes full circle

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Former All Black Richard Kahui was a member of the side from 2007-13, playing 60 times, scoring 15 tries, and sharing in the triumphs they enjoyed when winning the Super Rugby title in 2012 and 2013.

 

He was targeted as a player for the future when coming through the system and playing for New Zealand Under-21. He debuted for Waikato in 2004 and played his first season of Super Rugby in 2006, appearing eight times for the Highlanders.

 

Kahui was also a member of Richie McCaw's first World Cup-winning side in 2011, playing a role in the side's play-off games through the final stages of the tournament when replacing the injured Sonny Bill Williams on the wing.

 

That represented one of the great triumphs of the professional era because few players had been through the trauma that Kahui experienced with shoulder injuries.

 

In boxing parlance, it was as if he had glass shoulders.

 

No sooner did he rehabilitate himself back into the game than the inevitable seemed to happen with another shoulder injury.

A fast centre, he could take the outside gap and also run his wings into position. Kahui could also cover the wing, where he played in the 2011 World Cup final with France.

 

If a single moment of his career was etched into fans' memories, it would surely be the pile-driving tackle he put on Australia's first five-eighths Quade Cooper, as he took a high up-and-under at a crucial stage of the All Blacks' 20-6 semifinal win at the Cup.

 

New Zealand-born Cooper, who had grown up with Kahui in Tokoroa, had got himself well offside with All Blacks fans for a series of cheap shots he had taken at All Blacks captain Richie McCaw in previous encounters between the sides.

 

He was booed every time he touched the ball, and especially when lining up goal kicks.

When Kahui took him in the tackle concerned, the crowd's roar was like a collective release from fans as if Cooper was being made to pay for his sin of failing to respect the All Blacks icon that McCaw was.

 

Kahui played 18 Tests between 2008-11 and would have played many more had it not been for his injury woes.

 

Now 35, he joined the Force earlier in the year after completed 63 games for Toshiba when opting out of New Zealand rugby to play in Japan in 2014.

 

But when he runs out against his old side, it is in the knowledge that he has endured six major shoulder injuries during his career.

 

He admitted, earlier in the week, that the Chiefs were a big part of who he was as a rugby player, and he would have some mixed emotions ahead of the game.

 

However, he was looking forward to the experience and will have plenty of experience around him. Former All Blacks lock and Hurricane Jeremy Thrush will be in the pack while Argentine halfback Tomas Cubelli is playing and at fullback is former Ireland international Rob Kearney.

 

It promises to be a memorable night for Kahui in more ways than one.

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