'I'm limping my way to a hundy': Anton Lienert-Brown on finally reaching elusive milestone
Anton Lienert-Brown’s 100th Super Rugby match has been looming over him for some time now, a string of unfortunately timed injuries has kept the 59-cap All Black just a hair away from the elusive milestone.
The time finally came on Friday night in Dunedin, the Chiefs midfielder claiming his century in a 10th consecutive win in the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season.
Despite his veteran status within the team and vast experience in professional rugby, Lienert-Brown admitted the nerves were heavy prior to kick-off.
“I was extremely nervous,” he told Sky Sport. “The boys have been going so well, and I didn’t want to stuff it up for them. I didn’t want to be the guy on my 100th to wreck the winning streak.
“I love my ice baths and my saunas, so I’ve done a lot of visualisation over the last 10 weeks, and I’ve been ready for this moment for a long time.”
Earlier in the year, Lienert-Brown sat down with fellow Chiefs and All Blacks regular Damian McKenzie, who was also anticipating his 100th match, and reflected on his career.
No stranger to injury and the adversity it comes with, the 28-year-old’s journey over the past two seasons isn’t dissimilar to his first season in Chiefs colours.
“I’m limping my way to a hundy. Dislocated my shoulder at 98, a high ankle sprain at 99.
“I dislocated my shoulder in the last game of school, I moved up to the Chiefs, dislocated my shoulder again, had to get surgery. After being out for a year, they said ‘don’t worry, you won’t play’ but as you know back then, there used to be quite a lot of injuries, so ended up playing on the right sting and that was my first game back since high school.”
While the jump from high school to Super Rugby was in part due to the injury, Lienert-Brown joins an elite club of players to skip NPC-level rugby; a fact McKenzie joked might end up on the bottle cap of a Waikato Draught, the region’s iconic beer.
“That’s a bucket list for me, so hopefully,” Lienert-Brown replied with a grin before going on to discuss his Chiefs journey.
“I think I’m very fortunate to be a part of the Chiefs for a long time, and every time you put on the jersey, it’s special. It’s such an amazing region to play for, the fans are great through thick and thin, but I think it’s the friendships you make throughout your career off the field and there’s been a lot of special people be apart of the Chiefs and I guess that’s the thing I’ve enjoyed the most.”
Admittedly unsure of his talents coming out of high school, it was a familiar face in the form of New Zealand coaching legend Wayne Smith who was the first to identify the young Cantabrian’s potential, the vote of confidence proving just the spark Lienert-Brown needed to pursue his dream.
“In all honesty, I didn’t really think I would make a career out of professional rugby, and then halfway through the season, to have someone like Smithy tap me on the shoulder was unbelievable.
“That probably grew my belief that if a coach of his calibre thinks I’m alright, that’s where the belief started.”
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