CA Brumbies hooker Jeremy Paul has returned to training ahead of the 2007 Super 14 season.
The Wallaby rake was ruled out of the Spring Tour of Europe after he ruptured a tendon in his left ring finger during Australia's 24-16 loss to the Springboks in the final Tri-Nations clash at Ellis Park. He underwent surgery to repair the damaged finger in September.
Paul says he is excited to be back with the CA Brumbies' squad.
?It's great to be back,? he said. ?It's been a good opportunity to have a good rest over the last seven or eight weeks. And while it's never good to miss a tour, it's given me a chance to get back here and do some training.?
The 29-year-old says he expects to be available for the CA Brumbies' first match of the season against the Chiefs in Hamilton on February 2.
?My main goal is to have a good Super 14 season in what could be my last one,? he said. ?I'll weigh up the opportunities [about my future] and think about that later on. But at the moment my focus is enjoying this season with the Brumbies and making sure it's a memorable one.?
Paul, who is scheduled to resume full-contact training in January, denies that missing the current Spring Tour will disadvantage him during selections for the 2007 World Cup squad.
?I think it will all come down to next year's Super 14,? he said. ?I don't think that people can afford to jump ahead of themselves to be picked in the [Wallaby] squad. There's always going to be bolters, there's always going to be form and injuries and all that sort of stuff.
?But I'm really not looking past the Brumbies' season at the moment. I just really want to take the time to enjoy it. Canberra's been so good to me over the last 10 years and I just want to make sure that I can enjoy the time while I'm here.?
A trim Paul says he is in excellent shape leading into the 2007 Super 14 season.
?Physically and condition-wise, I feel the best that I have for the last five or six years,? he said. I'm turning 30 next year which is another milestone but I'm really looking forward to playing next year. I think it all goes by so fast. I've been getting a lot of calls from Bill [Young] when he's been working at the pub telling me to enjoy the time and that I don't need to be working six days a week behind the bar.?