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THE RISE OF loosehead prop Karl Tu’inukuafe became the rugby story of the year following his meteoric rise to the All Blacks in 2018.
Uncontracted at the end of 2017, he was called into the Chiefs squad initially in a development role but a run of injuries saw him play 16 matches for the Super side.
Very mobile for a big man, he was then called into the All Blacks during the Steinlager Series in June 2018. He came off the bench in the first Test against France, marking his debut with a devastating scrummaging performance. He went on to make six starts from 13 appearances that year and has been a standout.
After missing selection in the All Blacks Rugby World Cup squad in 2019, Tu'inukuafe bounced back strong in 2020 to earn a recall for the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship.
Tu’inukuafe, who has re-signed with New Zealand Rugby through to 2021, first came to prominence back in 2010 as part of the massive First XV front row at Auckland’s Wesley College. He made Counties Manukau age-grade teams and then took a couple of seasons off working as a security guard in the Auckland events industry before kick starting his career with North Harbour in 2015.
Tu’inukuafe spent a season in French club rugby before returning home – and the rest is history.