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All Blacks bolter Pasilio Tosi tipped to ‘take off’ under coach Jason Ryan

By Finn Morton
Pasilio Tosi looks on during the New Zealand All Blacks 2024 season launch at NZCIS on June 26, 2024 in Upper Hutt, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Hurricanes assistant coach Jamie Mackintosh has tipped Pasilio Tosi to “take off” as an All Black after the prop was picked in the first squad under Scott Robertson on Monday. Tosi was one of five uncapped players named in the 32-man group ahead of three Test matches in July.

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The term ‘bolter’ is thrown around quite a lot during any Super Rugby Pacific season. Whenever an exciting talent begins to hit their stride with a series of strong performances, that label is usually bestowed upon them if they’re yet to debut for the national team.

Cortez Ratima, Billy Proctor and even Wallace Sititi were talked up a bit during the season that finished last weekend, but the other two uncapped players seemed to almost come from nowhere. The Crusaders George Bell and Tosi are the other two men.

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Bell showed glimpses of promise while starting at hooker for the struggling Crusaders this season, including a phenomenal individual try during the win over the Chiefs in Christchurch. But the biggest surprise was undoubtedly the selection of Pasilio Tosi.

Tosi was playing in the backrow down south in Invercargill some years ago when someone told him “to transfer up to the front row.” It’s safe to say the now 25-year-old hasn’t looked back after playing in all 16 matches for the Hurricanes this year.

“Just absolutely stoked for him. What I’ve seen is the evolution of a guy who worked really, really hard on his professional habits. He was a big man – 150, 60 kilos, struggled with his conditioning and weight and consistency,” Jamie Mackintosh said on SENZ Afternoons with Staffy.

“This year, he’s been our most durable athlete. He’s 138 kilos, lean, running a 5:15, 5:20 Bronco and (he’s) the one player in our squad who played in every single match. (He) didn’t miss a pre-season training, he produces huge numbers.

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“(Tosi) really fronted up against some big scrums and improved and proved that he’s a pretty exciting for the All Blacks when you think we’re four years out from a World Cup, how much growth he’s still got to come and how good he’s got so quick.”

Tosi started the first match of the season at tighthead prop before moving back to the bench for the Hurricanes’ Super Round clash with the Queensland Reds. The front rower came off the pine to score the match-winning try in golden point at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.

After wearing the No. 18 in the next five matches, Tosi returned to the starting lineup for the Hurricanes clinical win away to the Fijian Drua. The Levin-born talent would end up coming off the bench in 10 of 16 appearances for the Super Rugby heavyweights.

But behind the scenes, Mackintosh and rest of the Hurricanes’ coaching staff clearly knew they had a special talent amongst their ranks. They weighed up whether to name Tosi on the bench ahead of Rugby World Cup-winning All Black Owen Franks late last year.

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Tosi returned to the Hurricanes this season in elite condition, with the prop running at least a 5:20 Bronco time as Macintosh mentioned above. That allowed the coaching staff to help the future All Blacks squad member “straight away on making him better.”

“He just started where he finished off and then got better and improved. We’ve got a pretty high quality set of props… our scrum trainings are pretty brutal and I could open up any folder of any week and I haven’t seen him in trouble too much,” Macintosh explained.

“He’s become pretty efficient at this craft pretty quick and he’s got some big areas to improve on, which he will because what he’s proven is that he can apply himself, you can show him something, and then he improves at it pretty quick which is pretty scary and pretty awesome as a coach when you see people do that.

“I think he has a passion for his craft but he also adds a lot of strings to his bow when you look at he was a pretty devastating ball carries as a No. 8 and now, under fatigue as a prop your scrummaging, your mauling, your running, you have a lot of work to do so he’s starting to carry really well because his fitness is up,” he added.

“In the lineout lifting and mauling, you probably won’t find a more powerful bloke in that space.

“He’s got a big ceiling mate and he’s still got a lot of improvement to come. Under (Jason) Ryan who’s a pretty special coach, I think he’s going to take off and I’m excited for his next little journey.”

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Comments

2 Comments
D
David 26 days ago

Yes, Samisoni took off under Ryan. He went from starter to bench to taken off to the stands.
The trend is bigger is better. Teams are scrambling for the biggest players.

Watched the Euro semifinal for about 10 minutes. That was all I could stand. Just big men smashing into big men - attrition and more attrition. The Super final too was one off stuff from the Blues. It’s winning on the field but who wants to watch or more importantly play that?

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