Tuipulotu embraces Blues leadership role

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Tuipulotu shared the captaincy with flanker Blake Gibson last season.


Tuipulotu said it was a privilege to captain his home side and to do it on his own for the first time. He had good senior group support to help him out.


He was excited about the young talent in the squad who were working in with the older heads and it was a case of mixing the best of both worlds to lift the side's performances.


Tuipulotu said while he was still a relatively young player, he had experienced a lot that players in the team hadn't and he could bring a lot of that to the side.


"That excites me, I'm hungry for success and a lot of the older guys and the young guys coming through are feeling similar," he said.


At the same time he said he needed to show more confidence in his leadership and what he brought to the side as the sole leader. He had played under recent All Blacks captains Richie McCaw and Kieran Read and their approach had made an impression on him. It would be a case of stepping out of his comfort zone by doing more than leading by example on the field.


Since returning from All Blacks' leave, Tuipulotu said the concentration had been on the team gelling. There had been a lot of hard work go in and the fitness levels were high.


While the team had been stuck at the bottom of the New Zealand Conference for several seasons, Tuipulotu said it was important the side put the past behind them and concentrate on putting the effort in to improve this season.


It was a case of the players walking off the field after games feeling they had put in a 100 percent effort and if that was the case they could be happy with that, he said.


There were a lot of cogs working that the public couldn't see and success depended on them all coming together.


So far as prospects for the All Blacks were concerned Tuipulotu said he believed so long as he did his job with the Blues those sorts of things would take care of themselves.


"There's obviously a bit of a vacancy there. One thing that excites me is striving to be a world-class lock. I don't think I have been for the last couple of years during my tenure here so that's another goal of mine. First and foremost I'm really excited to get stuck in with the Blues," he said.


Going into the 2020 season he felt like he was in the best shape of his life and he was looking to utilise that to play with more confidence and spur the side on.


While he had a longer than usual off-season with the World Cup finishing in the first weekend in November he hadn't stopped training because he didn't want to return to the Blues unfit and overweight. And he was proud of what he had achieved and believed it would put him in good stead for this year.


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