Jacobson looking to make most of opportunity

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Jacobson, the captain of a world championship-winning New Zealand Under-20 team in 2017, had future All Black written all over his career, but it came to a sudden stop in 2019.

Selected for the Rugby World Cup in Japan, he was injured in the warm-up game against Tonga on his home ground in Hamilton, and while reaching Japan with the team, he returned home as a result of a concussion.

That frustration continued into the disrupted 2020 season when more injury and the Covid lockdowns put a brake on a swift return to Test status. But the desire to get back into the All Blacks' environment never wavered, even if it meant being patient and taking a step at a time.

"It was pretty difficult," he said.

"The most difficult one was getting sent home from the World Cup. That was a pretty tough time for me with the highs of what had come before that and then that low.

"But it has taught me a lot about resilience mainly and being patient as well. You can't rush injuries. You have to bide your time.

It also taught him to switch off from the game and to think about other things.

"It probably taught me a little bit about what other boys are going through as well with their injuries, and a little bit of how to deal with them."

There was also the frustration of people asking six or seven times a day how his head was doing? The message from that was when someone was injured, don't ask them about that injury, talk about something else instead.

"As soon as I left the environment, it was a goal of mine to get back in it. I'd had a taste of what it was like and loved every moment of it. So it was always in the back of my head – wanting to get back in the All Blacks. But I guess, as most players would say, when you're in another competition, you have to focus on what's in front of you."

Returning was the big picture goal, but the focus was on small things on a week-to-week basis and how that could contribute towards achieving the ultimate goal.

He was always confident he could make it back it was just a case of applying himself to achieve the goal.

For all the disappointments of 2020, he enjoyed having the chance to get minutes on the park both in last year's national provincial championship with Waikato and in Super Rugby with the Chiefs this year.

It also gave him the chance to play more time to develop his skills at No8.

"No8 has always been a position I've quite liked to play in. It's always been a position I've covered, but this year I've managed to get some decent time there with the Chiefs, and it's been awesome to grow that skill set off the back of the scrum.

"I think it's an acquired skill set that you just need time at in there playing the game so I feel like I've learnt this year but I do know I've got a lot more to learn as well," he said.

The way he had played for the Chiefs this year, his skills and what he could do with the ball impressed forwards' coach John Plumtree, and he was looking forward to him playing for the All Blacks again.

Getting back into the All Blacks squad was more exciting than his first selection, exciting as that was because the second time around, it was a reward for what he put himself through to regain his goal.

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