Late change sees one more All Black named for possible debut
The 23-year-old was called into the squad following a head knock suffered by Asafo Aumua in the opening game of the Steinlager Series with Tonga.
Taukei’aho was one of three Chiefs players set to be unused for the series despite being a part of the 38-man squad but the injury to Coles could now hand the hooker his first All Blacks cap.
The Tongan-born rake toured New Zealand as captain of the Tonga U15s side’s and was offered a scholarship to study at St Paul’s Collegiate. In 2014 he represented the New Zealand Barbarians in his second to last year of college before earning selection in the Secondary Schools team a year later – alongside Aumua, the man he’s now replaced in the All Blacks.
Taukei’aho made his Chiefs debut in 2018 and has since made almost a half-century of appearances for the Super Rugby franchise, impressing with his powerful ball-carrying.
The 23-year-old was scouted by Tonga ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup but Taukei’aho knocked back their advances with the hopes of someday representing the All Blacks.
He’s made big strides in the past year, hugely improving his lineout delivery – the primary issue that at times held him back from earning regular starts for the Chiefs.
Now, Taukei’aho could make his All Blacks debut in front of a home crowd in Hamilton.
34-year-old Coles scored four tries off the bench for the All Blacks in last weekend’s win over Fiji and is expected to be fit for the All Blacks’ next match against the Wallabies on August 7.
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