Super Rugby
Aaron Smith turns to 2016 after 'awesome' season of trophies
December 8, 2015
© Phil Walter/Getty Images

Highlanders half-back Aaron Smith can be forgiven for not wanting 2015 to end.

He began the year having "never won any big trophies".

He will end it as a Super Rugby and a World Cup champion.

More than a month after he helped New Zealand to retain the Webb Ellis Cup at Twickenham, Smith is still pinching himself.

"It's really good to be able to say I gave 2015 everything I could, I gave it a good, honest crack," he said.

"But it's amazing to look back. It's always nice to win trophies, but I didn't expect to win two, so it was awesome."

The Super Rugby title was the Highlanders' first, and their squad of few star names did it the hard way.

They had to win three play-off matches, including beating the defending champion NSW Waratahs in Sydney and the top-ranked Hurricanes in the final in Wellington.

However, Smith won't be surprised if the Highlanders fly under the radar again when the expanded 18-man competition kicks off in February.

What he does hope is that the southern franchise have earned a bit more respect.

"I don't think we'll have a target on our back," he said of their status as title-holders.

"We know our fans believe in us and we believe in each other. I hope we get a bit more respect than we have in the past."

The 47-Test All Black's tip for team to watch is one of the additions, the unnamed Argentinian side.

"They're pretty much the Pumas, so I'll be going for them."

But Smith, who got back into training last week, is also wary of looking too far ahead, given that the championship won't be decided until August.

His immediate priority is to make sure he is ready to go for round one and a trip to Auckland to face the Blues.

"It's a gruelling eight months," the 27-year-old said.

"You have to get prepared and go in with a really good attitude, and you have to keep your focus short-term. If you think real long-term, you'll just blow out."


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