Super 15: Te Puna junior feels the Force

Slide over Chiefs, Te Puna fans have a new Super 15 team to support after former JMC player Tetera Faulkner's elevation into the Western Force squad for their two game tour of New Zealand.
Although the former Te Puna junior didn't make the playing squad for last Friday's clash with Hurricanes in Palmerston North he could play against the Highlanders this weekend.
Faulkner, 22, was raised as a whaangai (adoptive) child in Te Puna, discovering his passion for the game in the barefoot ranks at Maramatanga Park before moving with his family to Melbourne 10 years ago.
His father Jim is remembered by Te Puna president Mike Bidois as a hard-nosed prop who didn't take a backward step for many opponents. "Te Puna club members and whanau are extremely proud of another young man from our district being selected to play top level rugby," Bidois said.
Faulkner moved through the Victorian age-group rep grades before moving to Sydney where, until two weeks ago, he was a standout in the New South Wales first grade club competition at loosehead prop.
He signed to join the Western Force next season before being rushed into the squad on a short term injury replacement deal, replacing Wallaby prop Pek Cowan who is gone for the season with a broken cheekbone. Faulkner wasn't due to join his new teammates until after the Sydney Shute Shield competition had ended.
But the loss of Cowan and Force rookie prop Paul Alo-Emile preparing with the Australian under-20 squad for the Junior World Cup has left Force front-row stocks running low.
Faulkner is in the NSW Waratahs academy and played Australian schoolboys, under-19 and under-20s.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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