'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