Colin Slade keeps up his fitness with some swimming at the
St Clair Hot Water Pool this week. Also pictured above is
Brayden Mitchell. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
He has had two false starts. Now, Colin Slade is
confident of making it third time lucky. Rugby writer Steve
Hepburn catches up with the first five-eighth as the
Highlanders get into pre-season training.
Colin Slade is backing himself to do the job.
Sure, his last two years have been about as memorable as a
Police Academy sequel, but Slade is looking forward, not
''I have a lot of self-belief. People probably don't think I
would have, but I do. I will get back there and perform
again,'' Slade said.
He has had a horror run injury-wise in the Highlanders jersey
since signing in late 2010.
In 2011, he suffered two broken jaws which scuttled his
Last season, he started slowly, recovering from a groin
operation which was complicated by a hernia. Getting towards
top speed, he broke his left leg badly in Canberra and was
gone for the year.
Slade, who has just turned 25, admits he has become a good
''One thing that I have got good at is watching. I did not
beat myself up about watching, rather than playing. I just
have to concentrate on getting on the field. I can't clutter
my mind thinking about those sort of things.
''I'll be honest about it: I want to make it back in the All
Blacks. But you have to break it down into phases.
''For me, I just want to complete a Super 15 season, getting
back on to the field, and stringing a number of games
together. I think I have had two 80-minute games in the past
After he broke his leg, he took some time out, and initially
had thought about getting back and playing for Canterbury at
the back end of the ITM Cup.
Eventually, Slade opted to take a slow and steady road back
''Long-term injuries you just can not get back into the gym
in a couple of weeks. You need your mental space.
''You do not want to burn out by the time you are ready to
go. You want to be fizzing and ready to go when the time
comes. You do not want to be tired of training when the
important time and games come.''
Slade was still involved in the set-up with the Canterbury
side but it was not all rugby when he was laid up.
He went on his honeymoon with wife Emma to Mexico, and also
finished his arts degree at the University of Canterbury.'I
was never tempted to play. As soon as I got up there it was a
case of just building from square one again. Particularly
with my history.
''It is hard to continue in development as a player when you
are not playing. So it is important that you keep your head
in the game. You can't phase out as you become sort of brain
dead when it comes to rugby. The game changes so quick in a
year you can't afford to stay out.
''There is probably no better place to stay involved than
Canterbury. They have sort of been leading the way.''
Slade finished the season with Canterbury and then came back
to Dunedin early to get some training under his belt.
''I have actually been back in Dunedin since about a week
after the ITM Cup. I had a week with Canterbury but made the
decision to come back here and have worked with the trainer
for the past three weeks.
''So I have been in a self imposed pre-season for the last
three weeks. I have got a bit of catching up to do.''
Slade, who has no plans to head overseas, is confident he
will be right when the real action starts.
''It is coming along pretty well. If I had to put a figure on
it I would say it's 80 to 90%. I just want to get a bit more
explosive, getting that power back in the leg. The strength
is there. It is just getting the power back.
''Quite often it is not the leg sore but other things like a
hamstring or a knee. I'm just conditioning the body to get
back into the hard work. It certainly has not been used to
''I would like to think I'd be involved in the pre-season. To
be honest, I think I will. Everything is going along pretty
well. I have spoken to a lot of players who have been through
this sort of injury, everything is going similar to what they
''But you have your ups and downs, you have your good days
and your bad.''
He still has the rod in his leg and says it is likely to stay
although the two bottom screws are out and the top one may
also get taken out.
Slade has not forgotten the moment he broke his leg playing
''It is hard not to not think about. I would be lying if I
said I have never thought about it. But speaking to those
same players, they say it is completely normal. The only
thing to overcome this is to do contact. They reckon after
two games with contact then you'll be right.''