Taukei’aho takes his chance in the black jersey

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The Tongan-born 25-year-old is the first player to sign through until 2027 and had been firm in his commitment because even before he signed with the Chiefs and New Zealand in 2021, he had turned down overseas offers.

Undeterred by the presence of experienced players in his position, Dane Coles and Codie Taylor, Taukei'aho made an immediate impression when called in as injury cover for the 2021 pre-Rugby Championship campaign. Debuting off the bench against Fiji in Hamilton, he scored two tries and hasn't looked back.

As proficient as most hookers in scoring from lineout mauls, Taukei'aho also has a presence around the field and has developed into a hard-to-stop bullocking runner.

Now with 21 Test caps on his belt, he also gained a share last season of the record for most tries in a season, seven, by an All Blacks forward.

Awarded a scholarship by St Paul's Collegiate School in Hamilton, Taukei'aho made his provincial debut for Waikato in 2016. As injury cover for the Chiefs in 2017, he made his Super Rugby debut.

Taukei'aho said New Zealand developed his skills and made him the player he is, and he was delighted to represent the country.

Taukei'aho said heading overseas entered his thinking, but upon receiving an offer to stay in New Zealand where he could live his dream, he was happy to sign on.

While signed until next year, he and his agent thought it would be good to get it done now so he knew where he would be for the next four years.

"I think both parties just wanted to get something done looking beyond the World Cup. So, that's perfect timing for us too, to get it sorted over and done with, to move on and play some footy."

Taukei'aho said there was no secret about his success, which wasn't what he thought about.

"For me, it's just going week by week, day by day, and if I can improve one per cent every week, then I'm happy. Then, whatever comes, I'm not looking too far ahead.

"I've enjoyed playing for Waikato, representing the Chiefs and also the All Blacks. I'm grateful to have the opportunity, and just happy that deal's done and looking forward to the next four years, and this year as well."


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