Gloucester Rugby: Kalamafoni raring to go after hamstrung return
BULLDOZING back-rower Sione Kalamafoni describes his debut Gloucester season as nine months of collisions, 'tearing the body down'.
After four weeks' summer recuperation in Tonga with family and friends, he hardly expected to pick up where he had left off quite so quickly.
The 25-year-old human battering ram pitched up for Gloucester's pre-season testing day in late June – and promptly pulled a hamstring.
Just when he wanted to push the tempo, he was forced to put his feet up.
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Now he is fully fit, and understandably champing at the bit to hurtle into those Premiership skirmishes all over again.
"We went back to Tonga in the summer, relaxed and enjoyed ourselves," explained the former Nottingham bruiser. "Maybe we got too relaxed!
"Things are going really well for me now, but it didn't really start like that.
"I tore my hamstring and I was out for three to four weeks before I could get back in and start running again.
"It was on the very first day of pre-season, in the testing, I tore my hammy on the 100 metres.
"So I was frustrated with that, but at least I was able to find fitness again fairly quickly.
"And it was better to get it out of the way on the first day, if it had to happen.
"I'm fully fit now though and hopefully I can stay fit for the rest of the season.
"I needed that off-season break though, to clear the mind, and let the body recover too.
"You're playing nine months straight of rugby, of collisions and tearing the body down.
"The break is vital really, and the body recovers for the new season.
"So when you get to this point, you just can't wait to throw yourself into those collisions all over again."
Kalamafoni believes Gloucester's back-row is world-class in both strength and depth.
If he and Ben Morgan are there to smash straight through defences, Matt Kvesic and Andy Hazell are on hand to steal turnovers and offer continuity.
With Akapusi Qera and Matt Cox ready to flex heavy-hitting muscle and Gareth Evans a tricky creator too, the Kingsholm loose-forwards stocks run deeper than ever.
Gearing up for tomorrow's Premiership season opener against Sale Sharks at Kingsholm (kick-off 3pm), the 18-cap Tongan continued: "We have a world-class back-row, I can't say enough about it.
"It's not just three players either, the depth is amazing.
"So unless you stay at the very top of your game, you will be out of the team.
"You can always get better, no one's perfect, it's not possible to be perfect.
"But you can always improve, and I've been working hard to develop certain areas of my game.
"Hopefully I can go better this season than last.
"We always try to get the ball going in attack through the back-row.
"We've got a big role in that, so we just have to front up to get our momentum going, to hit hard and make holes.
"We've had some big tests over the pre-season, the pre-season camp in Tignes went well and we're in good shape now.
"Looking back to last season it was Nigel's first year, we had a lot of new players; me included.
"We had to feel our way into it to be honest.
"But this year we've been together a whole season now, coaches included and hopefully that means we can hit the ground running."