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New PBs and all-time records: Quinn Tupaea raises the bar after injury layoff

By Finn Morton
New Zealand's Quinn Tupaea trains during the captain's run at FMG Stadium in Hamilton on September 2, 2022, ahead of the Rugby Championship match between New Zealand and Argentina. (Photo by MICHAEL BRADLEY / AFP) (Photo by MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP via Getty Images)

All Blacks and Chiefs midfielder Quinn Tupaea is set to return from a disastrous knee injury looking bigger, better and stronger after raising the bar with some personal bests in pre-season.

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Tupaea, 24, is set to return to regular season action for the first time in a couple of years after suffering been struck down with the injury during a Bledisloe Cup test in 2022.

The rising star was struck down by an illegal cleanout from Australia lock Darcy Swain during the All Blacks’ stunning last-minute win over the Wallabies at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium.

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But after a lengthy stint on the sidelines, and after playing in New Zealand’s National Provincial Championship with Waikato last season, Tupaea is raring to go for the Chiefs.

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Tupaea has reportedly set some personal bests both in the gruelling fitness Bronco and in the weight room. The 14-Test All Black has broken the Chiefs midfielders’ all-time records for squats and pull-ups.

The returning New Zealand international, as reported by Stuff, also set the record for the midfielders’ bench press during his time on the sidelines. But Tupaea has remained coy about specific times and figures.

“I’m pretty excited to be back playing this year, it’s a lot different to last season,” Tupaea told Stuff. “I’m feeling pretty fit, and it’s been a hard, hot pre-season, so the body’s in a good spot and I’m ready to rip in.

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“I’ve got a few records in there now, so I’m pretty happy,” he mentioned about the gym. “Nah, we’ll keep that under wraps.”

Tupaea has been named as one of four midfielders in the Chiefs’ squad for 2024 along with All Black Anton Lienert-Brown, Gideon Wrampling and Rameka Poihipi.

The Chiefs are coming off a largely successful pre-season which saw the Hamilton-based side win two matches from as many stats in Japan before returning to New Zealand.

But it all matters now with the regular season about to get underway. While Tupaea is in the frame to return against the Crusaders in the Super Rugby Pacific season opener on Friday, the All Black said it’s “going to be a battle” just to start for the Chiefs.

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“Obviously pretty keen to be back in that All Blacks mix,” Tupaea said. “That’s a goal of mine and a place I want to get back to.

“But the midfield here’s pretty hotly contested, so it’s going to be a battle every week to start, and even be in the 23.”

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