Relaxed though he may be, Lachlan Boshier knows the beating that his body will have to take in order to get the job done for the Chiefs in Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Cutting a basketball singlet and shorts, the off-season is now over, and ahead, a big season for the man aptly referred to as the competition’s ‘turnover specialist’.
The expectation is last year’s form will carry over, that alongside the likes of Sam Cane and Luke Jacobson, Boshier will do his part to ensure the Chiefs head into each and every breakdown with the aim of being dominant and winning possession.
Instructed by interim coach Clayton McMillan to persevere with being comfortable without possession, perhaps a signal of a smarter territorial game to come this season, the Chiefs’ exploits against the tide at the breakdown could prove critical as they look to create opportunities for tries by being menacing in the trenches when opposition teams are setting up to clear for territory of their own.
Boshier will be a core cog in these efforts, but it will take a physical toll on what is still a very young body, one that perhaps has already had its shelf life shortened thanks to its weekly thrashings last season.
“The body was pretty beaten up,” Boshier tells RugbyPass. “First and foremost this recent break was about resting up and getting it right again because there is still plenty for me to improve on.”
Rugby pundits would agree that the 26-year-old was unlucky to miss out on the black jersey in 2020, seemingly overlooked for loose forwards who package a more versatile game.
Hurricanes loosie Du’Plessis Kirifi got the nod to come into the All Blacks as an injury replacement after Boshier had been left out of the main squad following the North v South match.
Boshier is still to have heard from All Black selectors, but heading into a campaign where the Chiefs are hellbent on turning their fortunes around, the Taranaki-native has self-identified the areas where he needs to improve.
“Maybe a little bit of the ball carry in the tight stuff. I don’t feel I’m doing too bad out in the wide channels but I need to lift the physicality in all areas. I’m not the most explosive player but the tank just keeps going and it’s about having that mindset to just carry on and put your head in the dark places”.
Looking at his game, the assessment Boshier makes is correct. It’s one thing to be a mammoth force at the breakdown and throw his 104kg frame into the wood chipper each week, it’s another to be a genuine offensive threat around the edges.
The body was sore following last season. Boshier had racked up a lot of 80-minute performances for both the Chiefs and Taranaki.
Super Rugby Aotearoa is back up and running, with the Crusaders and Blues both picking up wins in the first round of the competition. But, which five players from the opening weekend stood out the most? #SuperRugbyAotearoa https://t.co/qWBoIsyuMz
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 1, 2021
Feeling physically drained, Boshier talks of the mental impact towards the latter end of the piece as he tried to command his body to get back up, quite literally, off the turf in several instances.
“I don’t really think about it when I’m going in [to the breakdown] so I think it’s probably just natural instinct,” Boshier says. “I did get a lot of talk from some of the boys who said I might need to go off the field but I just carried on and ignored it.
“Sometimes that’s not a good thing because your body is getting banged up and you don’t recover well.”
Despite the physical toll, Boshier relished his opportunities to play the full 80 minutes each week, but considerable attention and effort had to be placed on recovery, a core part of the modern game that the best players manage to execute well for those critical few days after each match.
“You’ll always be sore but if you just sit on the couch you’ll only feel worse so I try to get out there and do something on the recovery front in the days after each game to limber the body up because it’s a tough old slog that doesn’t get any easier.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 28, 2021
It’s easy to forget that the road travelled for Boshier has been long. Chiefs debut? Look all the way back to 2016, coming in as an injury replacement with nothing else other than a semi-good resume.
Five years on, Boshier is now a critical part of the Chiefs forward pack and will have to be something near what he was last season if the franchise is to match the power of opposition jacklers.
Quietly spoken, laid back, but a real grafter where it counts, the message Boshier has given to his teammates during the preseason has been to forget about the frustrations of the 0-8 run a year ago.
Focus, according to Boshier, should sit on the individual efforts toward the collective goal of being far better opportunity takers, nailing the little moments, and doing the core roles well.
“There is no point in this group dwelling on all the losses we had last year. It’s about focusing on doing what you can control and playing as well as we can collectively to get the team across the line.”
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