Tuitavake not getting carried away with Test talk


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Blues winger Anthony Tuitavake is not getting carried away with the talk that he could be the All Blacks replacement for the injured Joe Rokocoko who is recovering from wrist surgery.

Tuitavake is refusing was named in an All Black team that was leaked at the weekend but has not been given the rubber stamp yet.

Tuitavake, in debriefing mode this week after the Blues failed to make the Super 14 semifinals, has been tipped as a new cap at centre when the All Black squad will be named on June the 1st.

The Blues centre however has said described the newspaper report that had him pencilled in for the No 13 jersey as mere speculation.

“It’s nice, but at the end of the day, it’s all speculation and just people’s opinion,” he said.

“Until the team gets named, I’m just like any other person and waiting to see what happens.”

Tuitavake added that he had not had any contact with the All Black selectors.

The Blues had something of a rollercoaster campaign which saw them racing ahead at the start of the season only to drop off in the middle of the season followed by improved form towards the end.

Tuitavake however has been in impressive form, whether at wing, where he began the season, or at centre.

For the last four matches, ex Blues coach David Nucifora moved him to centre in place of All Black Isaia Toeava and he continued to show sharp form.

Tuitavake himself would like to continue on the wing and said that he was beginning to find his feet there before he was shifted inside.

He admitted to having been a bit nervous when he resumed at centre, not having played there for some time.

“Replacing a class player like Isaia is pretty tough,” he said on Rugbyheaven.

“But it’s just like riding a bike. You jump in there and the guys around you help you.”

Tuitavake was reasonably pleased with how he had gone this year, his assessment of his own performances always being tempered by his focus on what he need to improve.

“I probably look at things I didn’t do to the best of my ability,” he said, citing handling under pressure, retaining the ball going into contact and overall defence.

“I had a few hiccups.”

He rated his improved consistency week-in week-out as one of the pluses.

“Doing the basics – just catching, passing, running and trying to break tackles – is what I try to bring every week,” he said.

“Consistency has been a factor for me this season.”

Tuitavake, 25, is contracted with the New Zealand Rugby Union until the end of the year.

Staying in New Zealand rather than joining the player drain overseas was the likely choice when his contract ran out.

“There’s definitely opportunities elsewhere,” he said, “but I want to stick around for a little bit.”

Nucifora had no doubts Tuitavake could make the step up to test rugby, either at wing or centre.

“He will do a good job wherever he’s put,” Nucifora said.

“We used him in both positions over the last couple of seasons. That’s more a question of balance within the team that’s been selected.”

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