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Jason Ryan on what has impressed him from the young All Black front row

By Ben Smith
Samisoni Taukei'aho of the New Zealand All Blacks is tackled during The Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Argentina Pumas at FMG Stadium Waikato on September 03, 2022 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The All Blacks have stuck with an emerging front row over the last two tests and they once again delivered an impressing showing in Hamilton against Los Pumas.

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Hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho was handed the starting role for the first Springboks test in Mbombela, while Ethan de Groot and Tyrel Lomax were afforded starting positions for the Ellis Park test.

The coaches have stuck with the trio since the 35-23 win in Johannesburg, who forwards coach Jason Ryan said made a ‘real impact’ in the 53-3 bounce back win over Argentina.

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Ethan de Groot managed to score the first try running a hard line off Aaron Smith, while Taukei’aho had one rubbed out late in the first half.

“I think they’ve been given opportunities and we’ve challenged them,” Ryan said of his young props.

“We’ve set them up around a couple of areas on how they prepare, making sure that they are ready, but they are coming on and making a real impact.”

The emergence of De Groot, Lomax and to a lesser extent young Crusader Fletcher Newell, who has been used as a bench replacement, has bolstered the All Blacks depth up front which has pleased Ryan.

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“We’ve got a good mix at the moment, obviously Neps [Nepo Laulala] and Ofa [Tuungafasi] are still there, and Angus [Ta’avao] and Aidan Ross,” he said.

“You can never have enough front rowers, we’ve always said that. Special people.

“It’s creating competition in that area, which we needed to. That breeds a lot of confidence.”

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Tongan-born Chiefs hooker has perhaps been the All Blacks best find this season, bringing a solid lineout, tough defence and hard carrying to the forward pack.

The new All Blacks No 2 had a perfect throwing game against Los Pumas, completing 100 per cent of his throws.

Ryan credited the work of the experienced pair behind the scenes for getting the best out of Taukei’aho in his early test career.

“He’s going well because he’s got very experienced hookers helping him as well.

“Codie [Taylor] and Colesy have been outstanding. They’re competing, like I said before around the props, extremely well which is making guys thrive in the environment and challenge each other.

“But Samisoni is playing some good rugby, we keep him grounded and working hard so he doesn’t get ahead of himself, so that’s our job.”

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