Tyler Ardron enjoying his Chiefs experience
HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 12: Chiefs Tyler Ardron during the Chiefs Super Rugby training session at FMG Stadium on April 12, 2019 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

Even after a disappointing loss, when speaking to him, you can see and hear that Tyler Ardron is very much enjoying his Chiefs experience.

The Canadian International has made New Zealand, and the Bay of Plenty Steamers/Chiefs Super Rugby franchise his new playing field. One where he can demonstrate the skills that have impressed his coaches, management and many Kiwi rugby fans.

Not only for his grit and determination but for the ‘experience’ he explained which is one of the key strengths he brought with him. Tyler Ardron spoke to Last Word on Rugby on Saturday about what motivates and drives him.

Signing an extension on his contract is an indicator of his enjoyment in the New Zealand conference. “Yeah, hopefully play two more seasons with the Chiefs. It’s great, even though it is only six months of the years, it’s nice to know where I’ll be for that much time.”

He has picked up some mannerisms, from being around his Kiwi teammates. “Yeah definitely [a classic Kiwi coloquism]. It’s a bit different to the years I had in Europe.

“I have a little bit more freedom, and yeah, it’s more fun.”

That fun might have seen a tough start to this current season, but with more wins under their belts, the Chiefs are still in with a chance to aim towards the Super Rugby playoffs. More wins are sure to come, and that would be a feather in the cap of Ardron, in his ‘kiwi rugby experience’.

Tyler Ardron enjoying his Chiefs experience

With 16 caps now to his name, Ardron has settled into the Hamilton-based franchise. He is becoming accustomed to the NZ rugby style; rough and tough forward play, with a focus on ball skills and counter-attack. Here, Ardron is not shy of getting his hands dirty. Preferring number eight, although due to injury he has had to adapt as needs be.

“I think number eight’s my best position, although I only got about four minutes of that [due to an injury to Mitchell Brown]. I prefer playing there where I’m more comfortable because I’ve played there most of my life”. Former Canada forwards coach Neil Barnes must have seen that his type of game would work well in Super Rugby, suggesting the move South.

Barnes is a part of a coaching group that includes Nick White, Tabai Matson, and head coach Colin Cooper. When asked about the brand of coaching Cooper brings, Ardron was positive in his praise. “He’s a good leader around the team. He keeps the culture up, and demands a lot from us.”

Adjusting from experiences with Ospreys in Wales, that gives him an appreciation of what it takes to blend into a group. “He [Cooper] takes a bit of a role like a mentor. Really keeps the organization running I believe. Yep, every coach is different, but I think he is really good at what he does. We’ve got a good staff.”

And with those learnings that Ardron will take from his two seasons with the Chiefs, it can only bring rewards when he returns to join the Canada rugby squad.

Canadian born Tyler Ardron ready for Maple Leaf representation

With 31 caps under his belt, the 6′ 4″ backrower has something to prove, when the 2019 tournament begins in September. Still focused on this Super Rugby season, Ardron admits it is in the back of his mind. “It’s a little bit in my mind, cause I was pretty disappointed to be injured for that first game of the 2015 World Cup. And pick up an injury in the third,  hopefully this time around it goes a bit better.

“I’ll throw everything I can in for the rest of the season first. And think about that later.”

Canada will feature in Pool B at the Rugby World Cup. That will pit them against South Africa, Italy, Namibia, and New Zealand. That will mean that on Wednesday, October 2 when Canada play the All Blacks. There, Ardron will likely face Chiefs teammates Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane and Anton Lienert-Brown.

That familiarity, plus the education he has taken on the subtle technical differences between Southern and Northern hemisphere rugby, is a benefit for him as a player; and probable leader. The expectation is palpable when he talks, but his core rugby values mean he is focused on the next immediate game.

Ardron enjoying Kiwi experience and Country music

Finding that he is still to complete some sightseeing around the land where he plies his trade, LWOR was interested in the man himself. Asking questions that might be more suited to an MTV-style interview, Ardron many of the things he enjoys about New Zealand Plus, his love for country music.

When asked about his favourite song, Ardron was adamant. “Red Dirt Road, by Brooks and Dunn”.

Coming from the northern hemisphere; born in Ontario, Canada, LWOR asked if he had done any skiing in New Zealand. “I’ve done a bit of snowboarding (but I’m not really supposed to do that much)”. Probably an occupational hazard for a professional sportsman, though he enjoys other Kiwi activities.

“Fishing, not so much surfing but I get out there”. His favourite beach is Raglan [west of Hamilton] and the 27-year old is also a fan of ‘the Mount’ – Mt Maunganui. That region is where he plays for the Bay of Plenty Steamers in the Mitre 10 Cup.

While being Captain of that side for a time last year, commitments to Canada will not see him return to Tauranga for this season. He will rejoin the Steamers in 2020, but his short-term goals are to be a strong part of the 2019 Rugby World Cup national team.

Those ambitions will have been honed by the last few months that he has played in Super Rugby. And if; similar to others like Martin Johnson who played in New Zealand, that ‘Kiwi experience’ has rubbed off on the player. So you can be sure that his teammates will benefit from that rugby education.

Even after a loss to the Blues in Super Rugby, this Ontario native is certainly going to put 100% into the Chiefs goals for 2019, before setting his own sights on the Canadian road to Japan.

 

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