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20 September 2021
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Tackling Samisoni Taukei’aho on the burst requires full commitment.

Steve Hale has the oil on how the impressive Chiefs hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho has graduated to the All Blacks (pages 24-26).

“Haha, Codie Taylor likes it,” booms Justin Marshall as a SKY TV camera operator zooms in on the veteran Crusaders hooker’s expression as he relaxed in the All Blacks dugout, seconds after his replacement, Samisoni Taukei’aho, scored on debut in the 58th minute of the Hamilton Test match against Fiji.

This try was the culmination of a diligent, well-crafted eight-man effort in which Taukei’aho displayed the maturity and patience to sit back in the tail, stay bound, clutching the pill “in the van” as South African commentators used to say, all the way to the tryline. Taylor could have been excused if he had made a slight grimace instead of a second beaming smile 23 minutes later when Taukei’aho decided to dot down again. The debutant’s second try in the 81st minute of play, also from a set lineout play, was a bruising, individual effort. After Taukei’aho hit replacement lock Brodie Retallick with pinpoint precision, Ardie Savea looped round the front of the lineout drawing the first defender to feed Taukei’aho, who had deftly positioned himself in the field of play, inches from the touchline. From 10 metres out with a head of steam up, Taukei’aho rumbles over, bumping off Fijian replacement winger Moses Sorovi, who was left in a heap as the All Blacks cruised to a 47-point win over a gallant Fijian side.

The 24-year-old’s powerhouse debut was a clear statement of intent that he will become a regular member of future All Blacks sides, not a one-cap wonder. While Dane Coles, Codie Taylor and Asafo Aumua will have thoroughly enjoyed the new All Blacks rake’s impressive performance, they will also have noticed the seamless transition which Taukei’aho made to the international arena and the dynamic power game he offers.

Continue this story in our September-October issue.

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