'It is going to be a step up' - talented Auckland back Tanielu Tele'a swaps Manu Samoa jersey for Baby Blacks

Talented midfielder and winger Tanielu Tele'a has switched allegiances, swapping the blue Manu Samoa jersey for a Baby Blacks one after being selected for the national squad.

Tele'a is set to don on the black jersey at the World Rugby Championship in France, which kick off in two weeks.

The 19-year-old is still pinching himself, playing alongside the likes of Super Rugby Blues star Caleb Clarke and All Blacks Sevens livewire Vilimoni Koroi.

"Try to keep to myself, but yeah, just like watching those fellas (Clarke and Koroi) train and stuff like that, it lets me know that you're close - you know playing with big names," said Tele'a.

"It's a huge honour and I won't be taking that for granted."

He knows the WRC stage can be a platform to show off his talents, after Wellington hooker Asafo Aumua exploded onto the world rugby scene and went onto play a Test for the All Blacks in the northern hemisphere tour last year.

"Just shows you what our opportunity is, don't be complacent because if you can get it right good things can happen.

"Just got to stick to what my parents said 'keep my head down and work hard', and definitely might get an opportunity one day."

Tele'a was instrumental for the New Zealand side's Oceania Rugby Championship campaign, scoring tries against Fiji and Tonga, with his team going on to win the title by defeating Australia 43-28 earlier this month.

"I think we can take confidence out of that, but at the same time we know it is going to be a step up."

Since making the team Tele'a has had family members and friends congratulate him on his selection while also cheekily asking about donating some of his playing gear.

"There is a little request here and there, not too much, they are good to me. They're really proud of me and (tell me) keep going because they think this could be just the start for me.

He captained the St Kents 1st XV in 2016 and played alongside All Blacks Sevens youngster Etene Nanai-Seturo.

St Kents centre and captain Tanielu Tele’a breaks away. Saint Kentigern College v Kings College. First XV Rugby Union. Saturday 2 July 2016. © Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
Tanielu Tele’a. Source: Photosport

"Along the way I met people like Etene and other mean players so going there (St Kents) was a huge blessing as well, and it's done me well," he said.

"Coming through with those fellas, having my name in the hat sort of thing, it's pretty cool."

Professional rugby is in the back of the mind of the youngster but for now, he is looking to enjoy his footy.

"That's not really the focus right now for me. Just right now is to have fun and enjoy what I do and the rest will take care of itself."

The blockbusting midfielder has a backup plan in mind if playing rugby as a career doesn't pan out.

Tanielu Telea of the Blues scores a try in the match between the Rebels and the Blues during the Global Tens Tournament at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia on February 10, 2018. Photo : Tertius Pickard / www.photosport.nz
Tanielu Tele'a. Source: Photosport

"I was studying at AUT (Auckland University of Technology) recently, communications or something around media or sports journalism or something like that, something similar to the role you are doing right now bro."

Auckland's Tanielu Tele'a scores a try as he is tackled by Waikato's Liam Coombes-Fabling during the Jock Hobbs Memorial trophy final rugby match between the Auckland and Waikato at Owen Delany Park in Taupo on Saturday the 16th September 2017. Copyright Photo by Marty Melville / www.Photosport.nz
Auckland's Tanielu Tele'a scores a try as he is tackled by Waikato's Liam Coombes-Fabling during the Jock Hobbs Memorial trophy final rugby match between the Auckland and Waikato at Owen Delany Park in Taupo. Source: Photosport

He was part of the Blues' Brisbane Tens side that took out the competition earlier in the year, and the Auckland U19 team that won the Jock Hobbs national tournament in Taupo.

The New Zealand team are to meet at Mount Maunganui to train as a squad tomorrow before flying out for France next Thursday.

The 19-year-old represented Samoa last year at the World Rugby Championship U20s tournament in Georgia. Source: 1 NEWS


Dane Coles prepares for long-awaited return to action - ‘He'll bring some fire and niggle off the bench’

It's been almost a year since he was last seen on the rugby field, but Dane Coles is finally set to make his long-awaited return from injury.

The 56-time capped All Black hooker hasn't played since last November, but will come off the bench in Wellington's crucial Mitre 10 Cup clash against Taranaki tomorrow night.

The plan is for him to have 20 minutes off the bench in the final round robin game of the season.

It's been close to a year since Coles injured his knee against France.

"Having played with him for a few years, it's really encouraging and I'm really pumped to have him back in the team," said fellow front row forward Jeff Toomaga-Allen.

"And I know he'll bring some fire and niggle off the bench." 

The All Blacks hooker will turn out for Wellington tomorrow, having not played since last November. Source: 1 NEWS



Watch: All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala shows off scars from broken arm as he prepares for rugby return

After nearly seven months on the sidelines, All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala is firming for his return to action, named on the bench for Counties' Mitre 10 Cup season finale against Canterbury on Saturday.

Having cemented his spot in the All Blacks' front row towards the end of 2017, Laulala's season was derailed just two weeks into his 2018 campaign, suffering a broken arm playing for the Chiefs. 

However, after a long road to recovery, Laulala is just one of three All Blacks front rowers to make their returns this weekend, with the Counties prop having seen the silver lining in his time away from rugby.

"It feels like an eternity," he began.

"I'm just really grateful for the time I got with my family - especially my wife. We're expecting our first child, (I'm) just trying to stay on the positive side of it all."

This isn't Laulala's first brush with serious injury, snapping three ligaments in 2015, ruled out for a year afterwards and fearing he'd never play again.

The burly front rower has used his experience though, helping him to come back stronger for a second time.

"I've been through some pretty intense trainings lately."

"This is my first full week with the boys. I'm going for whatever minutes I get, even if I get five minutes, I'll just be grateful to get back on the field, and just get an opportunity again."

Laulala will make his Counties debut, should he come off the bench.

After injury at the start of Super Rugby, Laulala will play for Counties this week. Source: 1 NEWS



Beauden Barrett 'still the number one' first-five over Richie Mo'unga, says Dan Carter

All Blacks great Dan Carter has thrown his support firmly behind Beauden Barrett as the first-choice in the number 10 jersey heading into next year's World Cup, following Richie Mo'unga's heroics against South Africa last weekend.

Coming off the bench in the second half in Pretoria, Mo'unga proved to be the All Blacks' saviour, slotting a conversion after the final whistle to steal the win after his side had been 30-13 down to the resurgent Springboks.

With Barrett having moved to fullback to accommodate Mo'unga's inclusion, debate has begun to arise as to whether or not the twice reigning World Player of the Year stay in the number 15 jersey, allowing for both stars to play at the same time though.

Speaking on Newstalk ZB this morning though, Carter said that the All Blacks need to persist with Barrett as the creative linchpin of the side.

Mo'unga is set to start in the No.10 jersey against Argentina in Nelson. Source: 1 NEWS

"He's still the number one 10 but to have the competition with Richie there, and when the time is right in certain games for Beaudie to go to the back and Richie come on and add another string to the backline," he said.

"It's the kind of depth and competition you want in a squad.

"For me Beaudie is still the leader in that All Blacks side and what he's achieved in the last three or four years has been incredible."

Carter also praised Mo'unga's emergence as a genuine world class player, having steered the Crusaders to back to back Super Rugby titles.

"I'm extremely proud of Richie and the way he's progressed over the last couple of years. I worked with him down at the Crusaders and he's got such a clear head. He doesn't let pressure get to him as we saw in the weekend.

"The fact he's putting Beaudie under a lot of pressure is great."

Barrett unselfishly let young Mo'unga take the game winning kick against South Africa. Source: 1 NEWS


Wayne Barnes to referee All Blacks v Ireland, Jerome Garces takes charge of clash with England

All Blacks may not be happy with the refereeing appointments for this year's end of year northern hemisphere tour, with Jerome Garces and Wayne Barnes to officiate New Zealand's clashes against Europe's best.

Barnes, 39, has earned the ire of All Blacks fans in the past, famously missing a forward pass against France that led to New Zealand's elimination from the 2007 World Cup in Cardiff.

He will take charge of the All Blacks' clash against world number two Ireland in Dublin on November 18 NZT.

Meanwhile, French referee Garces, 44, who showed Sonny Bill Williams a straight red card in last year's second Test against the British and Irish Lions, will officiate the much anticipated Test between the All Blacks and England at Twickenham on November 11.

The All Blacks' end-of-year tour begins on November 3 against Japan in Tokyo.

Referee Wayne Barnes.
2nd Bledisloe Cup Test of the 2018 Investec Rugby Championship.
New Zealand All Blacks v Australia (Wallabies) at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand on 25 August 2018.
Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
Rugby referee Wayne Barnes. Source: Photosport