One more shot at the All Blacks and Jordan Taufua will be content to embark on a new quest.
Entering his seventh season with the Crusaders, the abrasive, combative, committed loose forward has made the difficult decision to join the Leicester Tigers for two-and-a-half years following the New Zealand provincial season.
Knocking on the door for several seasons, Taufua made the All Blacks squad last year though didn’t take the field in the June series against France. He then broke his arm for a second time in the Crusaders’ Super Rugby semifinal, robbing him of a likely place on the northern tour.
Like English convert Brad Shields, Taufua has been a victim of the Jerome Kaino era and the depth for the All Blacks at blindside.
Walking away from New Zealand at the end of this year will be difficult but he feels ready for a new challenge.
Taufua informed All Blacks coach Steve Hansen of his intentions, and hopes to remain in the World Cup frame with the blindside role largely up for grabs this season.
“It was a big thing for me. I gave Steve a call and let him know I was heading overseas. I’m 100 per cent focused this year – I won’t be heading over until mid-November so my target is to give my all for the Crusaders and Tasman and if I get into that All Blacks environment again I’ll definitely be taking that chance,” Taufua tells the Herald.
“The dream is still there and my goal is still to be an All Black this year.
“Steve was really good about it – he understood from my point of view. He appreciated me giving him a call and was obviously disappointed I was going but he said he’d keep an eye on me for a big Super Rugby campaign.”
Previously Charles Piutau and Steven Luatua missed All Blacks selection after making decisions to move abroad. When a tight selection call arises, Hansen’s policy has usually been to pick those who are committed to New Zealand.