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Motivated by his exclusion from the Al Blacks in 2019, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi has come into the Super Rugby season with a chip on his shoulder.

The Chiefs halfback was overlooked in the national squad last year, with Chiefs teammate Brad Weber replacing him as the third-choice halfback behind Highlanders' Aaron Smith and Hurricanes' TJ Perenara.

While he was solid in the 2019 Super Rugby season, Weber outshone Tahuriorangi and went on to appear in one match at the Rugby World Cup.


Speaking to the Herald, Tahuriorangi said he was motivated by conversations he had with the All Blacks' coaching staff in 2019.

"It's pretty personal," Tahuriorangi said of the discussions between him and the All Blacks' coaching staff.

"Obviously I'd love to share it with everyone, but that's between me and Fozzy (All Blacks coach Ian Foster) at the moment. One thing I can tell you is that, for me, it's making sure I come in with excitement and with a chip on my shoulder and turn it into a positive thing. It's a good way of showing some resilience, and I think that's one thing he wants to see – how I operate with some fall backs and see how I bounce back.

"Full credit to Webby. There wouldn't be another person in New Zealand that I'd be happier for because I've seen the work that he's done. The respect between us is mutual and it's authentic. Obviously we both want to be wearing the black jersey but only one of us can.

The 24-year-old has certainly hit the ground running in the 2020 Super Rugby season, making two stars through the opening three rounds of competition. Tahuriorangi has been an influential part of the Chiefs' hot start to the season, leading the team's attack and distributing the ball nicely from the breakdown, while he has no hesitation to flash his kicking game or take the line on.

For most of his career Tahuriorangi has been used in a bench role, coming on to close games out at the back end. He said while he enjoyed that role, being a full-time starter would be ideal.

"Everyone wants to be starting but obviously you've got to do what's best for the team, and that's out of your control. Selection for me is out of my hands so it's up to the coaches to decide.

"If I'm on the bench, I understand what it's like to finish games and win games, but for me it's just about putting my best foot forward because you want to be starting. But whatever the case is, it's healthy between me and Webby."


With Weber having to observe a minute-restriction through the first three games of the season as all All Blacks have to, Tahuriorangi has benefitted from longer stints of the field. He started the first two games of the season – against the Blues and Crusaders – before returning to the bench for the team's match in Japan last time out.

With Weber left out of the squad to play the Brumbies in Hamilton on Saturday, Tahuriorangi will return to the starting squad, with young halfback Lisati Milo-Harris deputising on the bench.

While he's making the most of his time in the starting side at the moment, Tahuriorangi knows there will be heavy competition between himself and Weber when they're both available to play without minutes restrictions.

"I have been playing well, but Webby has been playing really well too. When you've got two halfbacks who want to be starting and be up there, you can see it. That's what you want as a coaching team, to make it really hard to name that starting nine.

"It's been really healthy between me and Webby. We both understand this is a business and we both respected each other for whoever to go out the in the nine jersey."