Ethan Blackadder is soaking it all in.
In his first year as a member of the All Blacks, the 26-year-old loose forward is operating like a sponge – taking in all the knowledge of the game he can get and learning whatever a teammate or coach is willing to teach him.
It's a trait that hasn't gone unnoticed in camp. Blackadder played the full 80 minutes of the All Blacks' 36-13 win over Argentina on Saturday night, and, although his eagerness on the defensive end may have been a factor in his high penalty and missed tackle counts, he did not stop trying to impact the game in any way possible.
"What we got out of Ethan Blackadder is probably what we got out of Ethan Blackadder at every training since he's been picked in a black jersey," All Blacks coach Ian Foster said after the game.
"He gives everything, he puts his body on the line, he trains hard, so I'm just delighted for him that he was able to keep duplicating what he's doing on Sunday to Friday. He's a top man, he gives you everything, wears his heart on his sleeve and loves being in that black jersey."
The All Blacks have the luxury of deep loose forward stocks in the squad, with both Blackadder and Akira Ioane having caught the eye in extended playing time on the blindside in recent weeks.
It can be a tough setting to stand out in, but it's one in which knowledge of the game can be found at every turn, and trying to learn, doing the "one-percenters", and not taking things for granted can go a long way.
"It's an environment where you learn heaps off everyone," Blackadder said.
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"The loose forwards, for example, we're a real tight group and there's so many different opinions and different things so we're constantly having conversations and they're just a great bunch of blokes that I always learn off."
In his first 80-minute outing for the All Blacks, Blackadder tucked a few more lessons away – none more valuable than the physical demands of playing a full match of test rugby, particularly playing at as high a tempo as the All Blacks do.
Blackadder admitted he was feeling it after the game; unsurprisingly given he led the team in tackles (11), was frequently contesting and cleaning out the breakdown, and took plenty of strong carries.
"Most games I'm feeling it, but that one was up there."
All Blacks scrum coach Greg Feek said Blackadder's approach to the game and getting everything he possibly can out of it should be something all young rugby players hoping to don the black jersey should be doing.
"One of the things for him, and it's a real good lesson for all young aspiring All Blacks out there, is how much work he puts in to learning his role. I know that sounds like a bit of a cliché, but he's diving into it and he's so clear about what he wants to do," Feek said.
"He never stops working with that, he's always doing extras – whether it's little micro things around offloading or jackling the ball or carrying the ball – he's so studious in what he does and I think what you're seeing on the paddock is a direct reflection of the work he's put in."