Tameifuna motivated for bigger and better
July 24, 2013
Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna is hoping his hot run of form has been noticed by All Blacks selectors © Getty Images
Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna is hoping his resurgence in form has caught the eye of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.
Last year the big tighthead prop burst on to the Super Rugby scene and started the majority of the Chiefs' games while first-choice tighthead Ben Afeaki was twice sidelined by injury.
It earned Tameifuna a call into the All Blacks training camp, although he never actually got to pull on the black jersey.
But the front-rower's weight ballooned during the off-season and he struggled with his fitness during Hawke's Bay's NPC campaign.
However, the 21-year-old has worked hard - particularly during the recent break for the June Tests - and is again showing the kind of form that impressed Hansen last year.
Tameifuna's desire to play for the All Blacks has spurred him on.
"I'd been real keen to get back in that environment and pull on a jersey this year."
He scored two tries in the Chiefs' most recent match against the Blues two weeks ago, one after a rampaging run which scattered defenders. He scrummaged strongly too and was far more effective around the park both on attack and defence.
"I said before the break I was going to go away and do a bit of hard work. It's paid off and I'm happy with that," Tameifuna said. "I was basically just running and getting fitter. Getting better at getting off the deck - just fitness basically."
Tameifuna knew it was work that needed to be done, with the top-qualifying Chiefs determined to retain the Super Rugby crown they won for the first time last year. He showcased his improved condition in their last two games - a heavy loss to the Crusaders and win over the Blues - while Afeaki was sidelined with a back injury.
The pair are both in contention to start the semi-final against the Crusaders in Hamilton on Saturday.
"I had a couple of injuries before but this was different." Tom Hamilton talks to Scott Williams about the O'Driscoll tackle, Wales and Scarlets
"To be the best it's not about the flash stuff, it's actually about everything done at a very high level." Tom Hamilton on the England squad
Huw Richards rewinds to 1864 to mark the birth of Welsh rugby's first authentic star - Arthur Gould
Michael Cheika has succeeded in becoming the Wallabies coach under his own terms, writes Greg Growden