Ricky Riccitelli has taken advantage of every opportunity he's been given.

When Hurricanes incumbent hooker Dane Coles went down injured at the start of the 2016 Super Rugby season, Riccitelli was signed as a short-term injury replacement player.

Impressing the right people with his play, he earned a full-time contract and helped the team win the title in his debut year. Two years on, the young Taranaki No.2 has been called into the All Blacks squad.

Riccitelli has been called up to replace Nathan Harris in the extended squad ahead of the third test against France in Dunedin on Saturday, with Harris leaving the squad to attend the birth of his first child.


"When I got the call I was obviously pretty stoked," Riccitelli said. "It's cool to be called back into the side. I'm really looking forward to a good week's training with the boys."

It will be Riccitelli's second run in the national system, with his first durng the 2017 Rugby Championship. Riccitelli was called into the squad that time around due to injuries to both Dane Coles and Highlanders hooker Liam Coltman, but was not needed on game day.

Since joining the Hurricanes, Riccitelli has seen plenty of time on the pitch – with injures to Coles giving the 23-year-old every opportunity to make the No.2 jersey his own.

Starting all 13 games for the club this year, he's played the third-most minutes (878) for the side and made the second-most tackles (122).

Riccitelli was quick to praise the Hurricanes set up for giving him the opportunities to perform for the club, and said he couldn't "pay them enough respect."

And while the call up means he'll be unavailable for the Hurricanes friendly against the Chiefs on Thursday in Hawera, South Taranaki, he was excited about the chance to get involved with the national squad again.

"It's been a goal of mine since I've been playing rugby to be in this All Blacks environment. Obviously I love playing for the Canes, but to be here is big for me. I'm just really excited to be in this All Blacks environment and learn, put up my hand and prove a point.

"I'm eyes and ears open for anything. Just really looking forward to trying to put my hand up and just do my role, not over complicate anything and just play some footy."


Riccitelli will likely compete with fellow Francis Douglas Memorial College alumni Coltman for Harris' role behind Codie Taylor in the match day 23.

Highlanders utility forward Jackson Hemopo was called into the squad as cover, with Super Rugby teammate Liam Squire in doubt for Saturday's test with a shoulder injury.

The final test in Dunedin on Saturday night will simply be a contest of pride, with the All Blacks leading the series 2-0.