It beats running up and down the field without a ball
All Black captain Richie McCaw may have had only a 15-minute cameo, but he feels it will stand him in good stead in weeks to come.
Speaking after coming off the bench in the Crusaders' 38-9 demolition of the reds in Christchurch on Saturday, McCaw said he thoroughly enjoyed being back after a six-month sabbatical.
McCaw, who made his comeback in a club game last week, took time out in order to extend his playing career through to the 2015 World Cup in England.
McCaw came on 15 minutes from the end, with the Crusaders holding a comfortable 28-9 lead, and wasted no time in getting involved in the game.
"It felt like I played about 80 [minutes]," McCaw said.
"The old lungs are burning a wee bit, but it was just awesome to be involved."
McCaw's return is part of the plan to get him into shape ahead of the Rugby Championship next month and next week's semifinal - against an opponent yet to be determined - will probably be his first start of the year for the Crusaders.
"I will be better for that, definitely," McCaw said of his hit-out.
"It certainly beats running up and down the field without a ball.
"I am looking forward to next week, it will be great to have another chance. I really enjoyed it and that's the main thing - that is why you play the game.
"Having had to watch it for the last wee while [six months], you realise why you do it - it was just nice to get on the field and enjoy it."
McCaw was full of praise for the Crusaders' domination of the Reds, which saw them outscore the visitors by four tries to none.
"The boys put on a great performance and in that second half, just to get on there, was good."
He admitted there were a few nerves, after the six-month lay-off.
"The team was going pretty well, so I just wanted to make sure I slot in nicely."
He also spoke of the Crusaders' confidence, come back from last week's sloppy 25-17 win over the Hurricanes.
"I think we were perhaps a bit disappointed last week how we turned up, even though we got the win," McCaw said.
"We realised we had to be better for it.
"I think the performance [against the Reds] showed the preparation that went in.
"We won the battle of the collisions, especially without the ball and that is a big part of the game."