Something of a forgotten man in the scrap for the All Blacks loose forwards, Jordan Taufua launches his push for a late surge this weekend at Twickenham.

Taufua cannot be overlooked in his quest to crack the World Cup squad. He would, in all likelihood, have savoured a long-awaited test debut this season but for injury.

Knowing the door remains very much open at six, he clearly remains hungry to prove he is the solution.

"They're still trying to find that player at that level in that jersey," Taufua said after finishing a typically light-hearted Barbarians training in west London ahead of this weekend's match against the Pumas. "They've had experiments around that number so for me it's just turning up and doing what I do.


"If that's still attractive, I'll be there. My desire to play for the jersey is still there so if all goes well I'll be there or thereabouts."

Taufua's maiden call up in June did not progress to fully-fledged All Blacks status, with Highlanders duo Shannon Frizell and Jackson Hemopo preferred for the third test against France in Dunedin after Liam Squire's broken thumb offered the chance.

Inspired by his first foot in the door, Taufua returned to the Crusaders where he continued dominating through highlight reel hits and carries at both blindside and No 8, while standing in for Kieran Read, only to break his arm in the Super Rugby semifinal victory over the Hurricanes.

The cruel timing of that setback – he now has plates in each arm after breaking both radiuses – ruled him out of the final and Rugby Championship reckoning.

Such is his drive to wear the black jersey, Taufua refused to give up on making the northern tour squad.

Ultimately, that timeline proved too hopeful. And so four months on, Taufua's comeback begins with a second appearance for the Baabaas, this time off the bench after starting against South Africa two years ago.

"I was training through trying to make the end of year tour and this was something on the side," he said. "I'm lucky there was a spot free in the loose forwards so it's good to get a golden egg at the end of the year and be part of it again.

"You can't control the injuries. It's been a frustrating, up-and-down year so I'm looking forward to getting out there this week and being back on the field."

Jordan Taufua at the All Blacks gym session at Les Mills on Victoria St, Auckland. 21 May 2018 New Zealand Herald Photograph by Jason Oxenham.
Jordan Taufua at the All Blacks gym session at Les Mills on Victoria St, Auckland. 21 May 2018 New Zealand Herald Photograph by Jason Oxenham.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has been open about the genuine contest for blindside duties after Squire was bogged down by injuries and struggled to assert his presence this season.

Frizell made a big impression against the Pumas in Nelson but remains a raw talent and it is a similar story with Vaea Fifita, who seized his chance in the cakewalk over Italy in Rome.

The mission to replace peak Jerome Kaino essentially goes on.

Of the contenders, Taufua is the wildcard option; firmly in the frame with his ability to cover No 8 offering potential upside.

What some suggest he lacks in size he compensates for with enduring heart.

After knocking on the door for some time and having already sacrificed lucrative offers abroad, the 26-year-old appears more determined than ever to force his way in.

"When the All Blacks came I was going to go over to Japan for four months but I got selected in June and I decided to pull out of it and keep going. No regrets there, I've still got the desire to do that.

"It's a big year next year with the World Cup but also another big Super Rugby season so I can't wait to get stuck into that. Preseason has just started. After this I'll probably go back and join the boys."

Every player loves the opportunity to join the Baabaas; a team where all common professional rugby confines are abandoned.

The week revolves around embracing the amateur ethos of quickly blending a squad; forming connections through old-fashioned bonding, and then adopting a brand of footy where anything goes.

Taufua's husky voice is a nod to good times already savoured, and there is plenty more to come before kickoff with the traditional mid-week dress up theme another regular event.

"I've got to go have a look. Christmas is coming up so I might go as Father Christmas or maybe the Grinch. That's the type of week it is there's always something on every day. It's not for a long time so we definitely enjoy each moment.

"This is why we play rugby to meet new mates. You don't get the chance to play alongside guys you play against normally. You usually just want to smash them week in, week out. Now we have a chance to get to know them on a personal level. I've played against most of these guys but I've never got the chance to hang out so this week is something special. It's a special jersey and a special team to play for."

After this restart, a special season next year could see Taufua finally grasp his dream.