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'No one stood a chance': Waratahs forward on facing NBA hardman Steven Adams

By Kim Ekin
Taleni Seu wins the lineout for the Waratahs. Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images

At 202 cm and 117kg, Taleni Seu’s physicality has proved damaging for his Waratahs side in Super Rugby Pacific. However, the same can not be said for a certain national basketball tournament in Wellington back in the day.


The tournament was attended by future NBA bruiser Steven Adams, the 211cm frame of the Kiwi sports star was head and shoulders above the rest of the field, Seu included.

A young Seu, like many talented Kiwi athletes, juggled both representative rugby and basketball, often taking to the court on Friday nights before he stepped on the field on Saturday.

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“I am grateful for basketball because it gave me a lot of skills that I could take into rugby,” he said, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.

“Just being comfortable with the ball in my hands. With basketball, you have high hand coordination, and with timing with the ball when you are jumping. Just little things like that helped me and I was able to transfer that into rugby.”


Just how those skills would have translated if the Memphis Grizzlies’ big man had followed a similar path to Seu will remain a mystery, but when matching up on the hardwood, Seu said there wasn’t much contest with the physicality of New Zealand’s highest-paid athlete.

“He was too big and no one stood a chance against him.”

Despite struggling against Adams, Seu was still focused on pursuing a basketball career, even initially turning down the interest of Chiefs head of recruitment Dave Dillon before Dillon eventually roped him back into the 15-man game.


Following a string of injuries with the Chiefs, Seu eventually moved to Japan where he impressed enough to earn a Waratahs contract.

Now having a breakout year for the Waratahs after bulking up in the offseason and getting his body right, Seu’s skillset and athleticism have added another string to the bow of coach Darryn Coleman’s attack and the team is profiting from it.

“The whole reason I came back was to get some quality football in, and be under some good coaches and be rubbing shoulders with Wallabies boys and potential Wallabies,” Seu said.

“I feel like I can back it up, week in and week out. I didn’t realise until I came back and started playing how better my body feels.”



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