Adapting to the Crusaders' training rhythm and their speed of play has been a significant difference for Argentine Test star Pablo Matera as the side heads into their opening Super Rugby Pacific game against the Hurricanes in Dunedin on Saturday.
That difference was his immediate impression at his first training run with the side.
"On the first day, I thought I had run twice as much as when I trained with Argentina and then when I saw my GPS [figures], they were more or less the same. It's the rhythm.
"They try to play at the fastest tempo possible and going from one place to another and not wasting any time.
"That's the biggest change, and the biggest challenge, for me," he said.
He was concerned to get better and was looking forward to putting what he had learned into action in a game.
Matera said he thought his loose forward teammates on Saturday, flanker Tom Christie and No8 Cullen Grace, were both great people and great players.
"They have helped me out well since I arrived. They are the two guys I have been asking most questions about the game plan and our role in the team. They have been helpful to me.
"They are young in years but they have been through a couple of seasons in Super Rugby already and they are very professional, and have an incredible work ethic. I am glad to be working alongside them and I am learning a lot from them as well," he said.
Support back in Argentina for him had been high. With no Super Rugby now for the Jaguares, there was more interest.
Argentinians had always followed New Zealand rugby, especially since Argentina had played in the Rugby Championship.
"We've learned a lot and everyone is happy for me being here. In a way it is like Argentina still being in the competition. They're all excited," he said.
Matera said the move to Queenstown's Covid-19 rugby bubble had been a great opportunity to connect more with the Crusaders. It was a chance to learn how they worked and functioned.
"I'm happy to have this opportunity and am enjoying my time in Queenstown. It's beautiful, I can't complain," he said.
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