‘I'm growing in this environment’ - Tupaea

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The Chiefs mid-fielder had long dreamt of achieving All Black status and, while surprised to get his first call-up earlier in the year, he feels much more comfortable settling in during the 'tour like no other', the side has undertaken.


"I feel a lot more comfortable compared to my first few weeks in the team," he said.


"I wasn't as confident back then and I was a bit nervous being in the environment. Now I've got about five games under my belt, and been in the team for a couple of months, it has eased my nerves," he said.


He will be paired with Braydon Ennor again in the centres, a reprise of their combination against the US Eagles. They had tried to keep things simple in Washington. They played their shape, kept the week's preparation simple and went out and had fun.


"We do a lot of work during the week and when we get to Saturday it's just about having fun. We take a lot of confidence out of the work we do during the week," he said.


They were expecting a big crowd and some extra pressure on Saturday, and he would be concentrating on getting the ball to the x-factor players outside him as early as possible to let them do their thing.

"It will be awesome to see Brayds go to work on Saturday," he said.


Tupaea said all year his concentration had been on keeping things simple, playing what was in front of him and doing the basics well.


"I guess that's what got me here so I may as well continue doing it."


"It's been a crazy two months. I was pretty surprised to be named in the initial squad but I've felt like over my time here I've earned my keep, and I feel like I'm growing in this environment. I'm loving it," he said.


The challenge was to turn up every week with the same mindset to win every day. Each training run was competitive for spots, and that had been the lesson for him during the tour.


"I love running with the ball in hand, it's something I've been growing over the last few months, my distribution game, especially in here with the guys outside me - putting them away. I do love running with the ball in hand and love the physical aspect of rugby," he said.


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