Telea hungry for more in 2021

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It was the result of a lot of groundwork put in during an untypical development.

 

Telea, 24, had made his first-class debut in 2016 for North Harbour but took time to find his feet and had none of the age-group experience that so many others take advantage of to set up their professional careers.

 

In four seasons with North Harbour, he played 25 games but only crossed for seven tries, although it was finally a consistent season in 2019 that resulted in a Blues' contract.

 

It was a chance he had been waiting for, and the speed merchant thrived by matching his Harbour strike rate with seven tries in his debut season with the Blues, in which time he played 14 games.

 

"Having come through the grades I had just taken every step as it came but coming into the Blues, Rangi [coach Leon MacDonald] and [backs coach] Dan – had told me about the opportunities I would have and for it was taking those opportunities when you can," he said.

 

"I wasn't the best player at the time – I'm still not the best player now, I'm still learning a lot of things – but for me, I wasn't developed as a player and the coaches saw that."

 

A key lesson had been appreciating that everything he was learning along the way was part of shaping him as a player and giving him the basics of the game he unleashed in 2020.

 

"As a player, you can't come straight through and learn everything. Some players grind it out and go through all the training and all the steps, and that is what makes you a better player," he said.

 

 

One of his attributes, his speed, was a natural asset, as he has never had any sprint training.

 

"I guess I was lucky and blessed with some good genes," he said.

 

While the season was disrupted with the onset of Covid-19 shutdowns in the wake of the pandemic's arrival just after Super Rugby had got underway, Telea said the enforced break had been used well by the Blues.

 

"We just wanted to progress with the platform we set," he said.

 

That had been important with the introduction of Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa.

 

There was a feeling of getting up for the city and the result had been the constant excitement generated by a succession of local derbies.

 

The physical and mental pressures were intense, compounded by the fact there was something outside the game in players' lives that nobody had had to cope with previously.

 

"I was lucky. There were a lot of old boys and experienced players in our team who were looking after a lot of the young boys coming through.

 

"I just took their words and tried to use them as my own. To take it as an understanding that they had been there and done that before, and to understand there would be times we would go to dark places as a team.

 

"There would be times when we celebrate, and it was all about learning as a player. They just wanted to develop as best they can and we were fortunate to have All Blacks and senior players who could teach younger players coming through," he said.

 

Transferring from North Harbour to Tasman to play 11 games and share in the Mitre 10 Cup triumph had been something different for him. But the players and coaching staff in Nelson had made him welcome.

 

"It was such an unreal experience for me, especially to go down there and get the result we wanted and then to come home and see the smiles on the faces of my family – it was a good experience," he said.

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