Loose forward Victor Vito says World Cup thoughts have been pushed firmly to the back of the mind as the Hurricanes prepare for their Super Rugby semi-final against the Brumbies.
The Hurricanes have provided 12 of the 41 players in the first All Blacks squad of the year. Only the Crusaders, with 13, have more representation.
Vito says it’s always hugely exciting to hear one’s name read out for the All Blacks.
At the same time, he and his Hurricanes teammates can’t afford to let their minds wander beyond this week.
There’s only one focus for them and that’s the Brumbies in Wellington on Saturday night.
“I think it’s something that’s at the back of the mind,” Vito said of the World Cup.
“But to be honest, it’s the very last thing on my mind at the moment. I’ve got a big game this weekend that I’ve got to get prepared for with the boys.”
If the Hurricanes make the final, their All Blacks contingent will be out of contention for the Test against Samoa in Apia four days later.
It’s something that Wellington-born Vito, who is of Samoan ancestry and has the title of high chief in his family’s village, has also given little thought to.
“I’m just worrying about this game against the Brumbies,” the 28-year-old said.
“We haven’t played them this year. Our sights are firmly set on the Brumbies.”
Vito, capped 26 times, ended last year with Test coach Steve Hansen calling for a big Super Rugby campaign from him.
He had hobbled out of the All Blacks’ end-of-year tour with a calf injury picked up against Scotland at Murrayfield.
“Defensively, I wanted to up my game a little bit and I think I’ve made some good strides in that this year,” Vito said.
“There are some attacking things I would like to sharpen up on, but defensively and all-round, I think I’m doing better.”