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Taufua's time has come, and he's ready

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Lynn McConnell     20 May 2018     Getty Images

There had been too many other occasions when he had been touted only to miss out. But that all changed at the weekend.

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Taufua said he got a call in the changing room after the Crusaders' Investec Super Rugby win over the Blues in Auckland on Saturday.

"My manager for the Crusaders Shane Fletcher gave me the phone and said 'Enoka [All Blacks leadership manager Gilbert Enoka] is on the phone' and my first reaction was 'Who's that?' I've never met the guy, I'm sure he's a really nice guy so I got on the phone and we started chatting and he let me know I'd made the team.

"At the time it was pretty special and I was a bit speechless and overwhelmed but at the same time excited," he said.

The comments about Taufua's potential All Black status had started a few years ago but he tried to block it out while he concentrated on what he did on the field and to keep pushing because his time would come.

It had been a case of believing in the process and trusting in that, he said.

This year he had been doing extra work with Crusaders coach Scott Robertson about his role at No.8, especially in the absence of All Blacks captain Kieran Read after his back surgery.

"It was attack and defence, and positional sort of stuff and also the breakdown so we've been doing a lot of work around there but this year has been pretty much do what I do and get the ball in my hands when I can on attack and love the defence," he said.

The Auckland-born Taufua said the Crusaders environment was enjoyable to play in. It was enjoyable turning up on Monday mornings and he loved the training. Every week was different and there was a massive work ethic and care for the team in the squad and that had pushed him to be a better person.

While there had been a lot of comment about his stature being shorter than usual for a No.8 he said he felt twice the size when he was on the field and it was a case of waiting until he got on the field to make his mark.

The ability to cope with the higher level of play in internationals was something he was expecting to handle, especially in the wake of the Crusaders being the defending Super Rugby champions because every game was like a Test match.

"Every team, it doesn't matter whether they are last or first, they're coming after us and we see every game, basically, as a final," he said.

"For me when I go out to play I play with passion and energy. I make sure I bring the energy because I know all this talk about height and that gets me up and gets me excited," he said.

That would help the transition while it also helped that the Crusaders had a good group of leaders with the new captain lock Sam Whitelock involved.

At the same time he said selection was just a foot in the door and he would be striving to get on the field to show what he could do while representing his country.

"The work starts now," he said.

"I'm cherishing the moment when I get the chance and just going out there and doing what I do."

Playing a debut Test against France would be special.

"France is a very emotional team as you can tell, and country as well. They love their rugby so we'll be expecting them to come out for these Test matches looking to put one in there," he said.