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Blues add another All Black prop to their front row stocks as Laulala decides to return home

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala today confirmed he will play his Super Rugby for the Blues for the next two years.

Samoan-born Laulala, educated in Auckland at Mt Albert Grammar and Westley College, wanted to be closer to family in Auckland with his wife Loriana and son Cassius.

 “My wife and I felt the time was right for us to move closer to our families in Auckland. I went to school in Auckland and our extended families are all there,” said Laulala.

“Family is so important to us and even more so for Loriana to have support when I am away.

“I want to thank the Chiefs for all they have done for me.”

It means the Blues will boast four All Black front-rowers, joining Ofa Tuungafasi, Karl Tu’inukuafe and Alex Hodgman. All four are to play in the Rugby Championship in Australia, with Laulala granted paternity leave to delay his departure across the Tasman.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CGnpYyYF_4y/

“I am excited to join the Blues and get to train and play alongside Ofa, Alex and Karl and I am looking forward to working with Ben Afeaki, Tom Coventry and the rest of the coaching team.”

Blues head coach Leon MacDonald said Laulala’s move is a further boost for the team.

“Nepo is a powerful scrummager and has worked hard on improving his mobility and handling around the field,” said MacDonald.

“It will be great for the four All Blacks to feed off each other, share information and collectively push themselves to continue to improve.

“It will also give us the opportunity to keep the group fresh and excited each week.”

Laulala will continue to play for Counties-Manukau where his brothers Ray and Casey have played while Luteru is in the current Steelers squad for the Mitre-10 Cup.

Laulala played 34 times for the Crusaders before joining the Chiefs in 2016, playing 41 times across five seasons for the Hamilton-based franchise.

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Flankly 10 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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