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'Credit should go to the locks': Samisoni Taukei'aho downplays All Blacks performance

By Tom Vinicombe
Samisoni Taukei'aho. (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)

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After a barnstorming showing in the No 2 jersey over the weekend, young All Blacks hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho has downplayed his performance in just his second start for the national side, instead crediting the men around him.

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Taukei’aho nailed all 10 of his lineout deliveries at Mbombela Stadium over the weekend and finished the match as the All Blacks’ second-best metre-eater in the forwards but the 25-year-old – who celebrated his birthday on Monday – has insisted that he’s not the one who should be given the praise for the accurate showing at the set-piece.

“I’m not going to take credit for myself,” he said, “because there’s a lot of people, a lot of moving parts in a lineout: the system, the locks, the callers.

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“For me, my job is just to throw in the ball and I’ll give credit to the other hookers, we do throwing on our days off and stuff like that. It’s just putting the hard yards in behind the scene so when we go out to the field, we just execute.

“But credit should go to the locks, the people calling it because their job is to identify where the space is and make the hooker’s job a lot easier by throwing it to open space. Sammy Whitelock and all the locks [deserve the credit].”

While Taukei’aho is absolutely correct that it takes more than just one player performing well to run a lineout, things didn’t go quite so well for the considerably more experienced Dane Coles when he entered the fray in the 56th minute.

In years gone by, Taukei’aho has seriously struggled with hitting his targets – either conceding possession to the opposition jumpers, overthrowing the delivery or being free-kicked for not throwing straight. He revealed that while he hadn’t made any major tweaks to his process, he had made some mental strides that have helped his accuracy.

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“I think for me it was more the mental side of it (that has developed),” he said. “Sometimes I overthink too much and think about stuff that I couldn’t control which I shouldn’t have done and I think I’m just tweaking that and focussing on what I can control, which is getting my process right, focussing on my process and not the outcome of the throw. That helped me a lot. Every time I get to actually get a lineout, I just focus on that instead of focussing on the outcomes.”

Coach Ian Foster acknowledged the strong showing from Taukei’aho the morning following the match and – in line with the hooker’s comments on his own mental approach to lineouts – praised his uncomplicated nature.

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“I was delighted with him, he played well,” Foster said. “We liked him because he was quite uncomplicated, didn’t get fazed, carried well. He contributed well at scrum time. He gets a big tick.

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“A big test for him and delighted with him, really.”

While Foster wouldn’t comment on why Taukei’aho wasn’t given a starting opportunity against Ireland in July, the All Blacks top dog will undoubtedly persist with the Chiefs hooker in the No 2 jersey this weekend when NZ once again face off with South Africa.

Having gone down 26-10 on Saturday, Foster will be looking for another big performance from Taukei’aho to help get the All Blacks back on track following three straight defeats.

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