Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Tuipulotu starting to turn heads

Patrick Tuipulotu. Photo / Greg Bowker
Patrick Tuipulotu. Photo / Greg Bowker

Jewels have been hard to locate this season with the Blues.

Captain Luke Braid and sidekick loosie Jerome Kaino have glittered and there has been more of a shine about Ma Nonu's play. Too often others' form has resembled an intermittent strobe light.

One who is starting to develop the constant sort of glow coaches love is Patrick Tuipulotu, the young lock who was called into the first All Blacks training camp.

He was involved in plenty of hard yakka as the Sharks came to town, work which became even more important when his senior locking teammate Tom Donnelly went off injured.

Senior Sharks like the du Plessis brothers, Tendai Mtawarira and Willem Alberts increase their combat levels when they feel challenged or have to absorb more heat.

Plenty of that was coming from Tuipulotu, who is showing more of the potential the national panel spotted. His 120kg frame churns through plenty of work as he creates damage in the panel-beating route one zones on the rugby field.

He is showing useful timing at the front of the lineout too, a skill which was important in the conditions at North Harbour Stadium as the Blues wrestled with the frontrunners in the African pool.

Tight forwards need to wear down their foes in the torrid physical clashes, they have to get used to the grind and Tuipulotu is delivering on that mandate. He is only 21 but his promise is something to foster.

- NZ Herald

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