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Moala keen to make most of unexpected chance

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Lynn McConnell     24 Jun 2016     Getty Images

Moala was not named in the squad for the series back in late-May but was brought in as injury cover for Chiefs mid-fielder Charlie Ngatai who had been suffering concussion.

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Then last week when Malakai Fekitoa was injured Moala's stocks rose. Fekitoa could have played in a vital situation coach Steve Hansen said, but with a nasty cut it was decided to let him recover while Seta Tamanivalu had time in the first two Tests and it was felt opportune to look at Moala who had worked hard while with the team.

"I was quite surprised when the selectors told me I was playing but I'm really grateful for the opportunity and I'm looking forward to it," Moala said.

The feeling upon selection was the same as it had been before his debut game against Samoa last year.

He prefers centre and didn't feel as comfortable on the wing where he had been playing over the last few years. He and second five-eighths Ryan Crotty hadn't had a lot of time to connect but Crotty had been working hard with him over the last few days to help sort his roles.

Assistant coach Wayne Smith had also been working with him on his defensive game.

Moala commented on coach Hansen's assertion that he had been trying too hard during the year and had only relaxed recently. He said it had been a case of trying to do too much with the Blues but in the All Blacks it was about taking care of his own role.

Being in that environment was a confidence boost where he was encouraged to be himself. He added he was looking forward to the challenge of going out to play some of the best centres in the world in Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts.
Moala said Blues coach and former All Blacks centre Tana Umaga had been a big help for him in the position because he had only two seasons in the position.

Fellow Blues player prop Charlie Faumuina said it was great to have a team-mate starting with him. Moala had come in as injury cover for Charlie Ngatai and had received an opportunity which he was sure he would take.

Moala was strong and was known in the gym as 'George of the Jungle' by his team-mates.

"He's pretty strong, he's not someone you would want to be marking when he runs straight at you. I'm looking forward to the battle he will have with the Welsh boys and I'm sure he'll get us some go-forward," he said.

Getting a start was a thrill, he said, and he was looking forward to the weekend.

Another team-mate from the Blues, prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi had been named on the bench and had been enjoying being part of the environment. He'd been asking plenty of questions and was looking forward to the game, Faumuina said.