Andrew Strawbridge is relishing the opportunity to be back with the Chiefs as assistant coach after almost losing his life to a serious eye infection last year.
The 51-year-old became seriously ill en route to Apia to help the Samoan national team as a technical adviser in their historic first home Test match against the All Blacks in July, and he was taken to Moto'otua Hospital in a critical condition and diced with death before being flown back to Hamilton for specialist treatment.
"I spoke to the players about it the other day for the first time and sort of got a bit emotional talking about it," Strawbridge said. "The real champion in all of this has been my wife. She was the one confronted with all the information and was told I probably wouldn't be alive a couple of times during the process."
The father of three, who lost his right eye as a result of the illness, said he had also been thrilled with the public's response to the givealittle campaign his wife started to raise funds for the Moto'otua National Hospital intensive care unit.
"We raised close to $NZL70,000 for the hospital," he said. "I've already heard it's making a difference with stories about people surviving situations they might not have now that the ICU is more adequately equipped."
Strawbridge is staying positive despite the difficulties he's faced since returning to coaching.
"I get a bit tired at times and I'm adapting to the challenges around my vision," he said.
"Everybody has been pretty kind to me with regards to my brain injury as I have memory lapses here and there, but they have all been supportive."
Strawbridge had just signed a new two-year contract with the Chiefs before his illness, and he will remain with the team until the end of the 2017 campaign. He has been with the team since Dave Rennie took over the reins in 2012, helping them to two Super Rugby titles and two other play-off appearances.