2022 was a memorable year for Reds forward Connor Vest.
The 26-year-old made his Super Rugby debut, going on to play 10 games for Queensland in his first professional season.
Vest’s form saw him rewarded with his first full-time contract at Ballymore, before he took up an opportunity with Auckland in New Zealand’s National Provincial Championship.
Vest took the time across the ditch to elevate his own game, while he also proposed to his now-fiancé Paris.
“2022 was the year my dreams came true,” the abrasive lock/backrower said.
“My professional career started, I got engaged, can’t really top it.”
Vest took plenty from his stint in Auckland, with the NPC widely regarded as one of the world’s premier domestic competitions.
Playing and training alongside All Blacks Angus Taʻavao, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Patrick Tuipulotu, as well as a host of Super Rugby players has seen the UQ premiership winner return to Ballymore a better Rugby player both on and off the field.
“I got over there expecting a lot and I got so much more than I expected,” he said.
“The way they play the game is so quick, the way they train is something my body was not used to do for the first couple of weeks.
“The continuous flow of the game is the reason why the All Blacks have been number-one for so long.”
Although he has found a new level of respect for his Kiwi counterparts, Vest’s experiences in New Zealand will matter little in 2023, with he and his Reds teammates focussed solely on their own Super Rugby campaign.
“We’re doing a lot of work on resilience and not thinking that the New Zealand teams are better,” Vest said.
“We’re thinking of them as another Rugby team, a team of ‘white jersey’s so to speak.
“Week in, week out, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing.
“We’re going to go out there and play our style of footy, our brand of footy."
Now entrenched in Queensland’s Super Rugby squad, Vest has turned his attention to 2023, and he’ll compete against a number of experienced campaigners for a spot in the Reds pack.
“I’m really focussed on footy and putting my best foot forward to knock down a starting spot,” Vest said.
“Competing against the boys here, we’ve got Ryan Smith, Seru Uru, Luke Jones, they’re all very, very experienced players.
“Training against them day-in-day-out is going to be the key to me taking the next step.”
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