New Chiefs signing Robbie Fruean says that having had heart surgery to have faulty valve replaced he feels fitter now than he has been in the past four years.
Fruean has been named in the Chiefs starting line up against his old team the Crusaders and says that he is ready to take his game to a new level.
The 25-year-old former Crusaders centre has recovered from his second bout of heart surgery and this time had a slightly bigger valve installed as it was better suited to his huge frame and level of athletic performance.
Last season Fruean found that he was exhausted at the end of every run and it was revealed that he needed a second operation and the surgeon decided that a larger valve was needed to cope with the demands of top level rugby on Fruean's body.
Just as the Crusaders appeared set to move Fruean into their wider training group the Chiefs spoke to the medical experts about his condition and felt that they could improve him as a player whilst also getting a much-needed big man in midfield.
"I'm probably in the best shape I've ever been in in the past four years," Fruean told Fairfax NZ News.
"I've made massive strides in the past two months - more than I ever did in the last four years - and that's just down to the alterations the surgeon made to my new valve.
"It's been massive and I guess because of the fact I've always had to try and work hard it's helped me make those steps count."
The new valve has enabled him to be fitter than he had ever been before and with that he has had a huge psychological boost.
He now feels "pretty good about himself" and is excited about playing his against his old team.
"When I saw that [we were going to play the Crusaders first] I guess it just gave me more drive to work even harder and make sure I put my hand up for that game," he said.