'It's a long-term project' - ABs aim to convert Chiefs' Atu Moli to loosehead prop




Atu Moli is learning a new role in the toughest of rugby environments.

Coach Steve Hansen says the uncapped tighthead is capable of learning and playing both sides of the scrum.
Source: 1 NEWS

The uncapped Chiefs front-rower will make his All Blacks debut if he comes off the bench in the match against a French selection in Lyon tomorrow morning.

And in a new twist, he'll do it on the loosehead side of the scrum.

For the uninitiated it seems insignificant but for those at the coalface, the roles of loosehead with tighthead props differ markedly.

Moli, 22, was a tighthead when he captained New Zealand under-20 to the world junior title and he's stayed there in his formative Super Rugby seasons with the Chiefs.

However, his world has been shaken up by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who is making the burly youngster swap sides.

"It'll be a major test for him to go over there but we think he's capable," Hansen said.

"It's a long-term project but he'll get there quicker as a loosehead rather than a tighthead, probably."

Hansen admitted the switch was also driven by the relative lack of depth in New Zealand on the loosehead side.

Down the track, a Test reserve bench featuring athletic Blues tighthead Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Moli holds considerable appeal.

"If we look at the makeup of our team, two really good athletes coming off the bench in the future would be quite handy," Hansen said.

"Atu's a real athlete and they're pretty rare in the front row so if you can find one, take your time and build him."

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