The two test All Black set for a big return
Luke Jacobson’s recall to the All Blacks squad last week was the culmination of a grueling eighteen months for the 24-year-old.
The Chiefs No. 8 enjoyed a meteoric rise through the ranks at youth level, first bursting onto the scene as a member of the New Zealand Schools team back in 2014. Within just three years he had earned a place in the New Zealand U20s side, first in 2016 and then for a second time in 2017 when, as captain, he led the Baby Blacks to their sixth World Rugby U20 World Championship title.
A Chiefs debut in 2018 quickly followed, before impressing then coach Steve Hansen enough to earn an All Blacks call-up just one year later.
Jacobson went on to earn two caps in 2019 before achieving selection to the All Blacks World Cup squad that year. Unfortunately, recurring concussion issues served to cruelly rule him out of making a first World Cup appearance in the black jersey.
An injury-ridden 2020 followed, with Jacobson making just four starts for the Chiefs. Moreover, his lack of game time saw him ruled out of selection for the North v South clash and lose his place in the national setup to the young, up and coming talents of Cullen Grace and Hoskins Sotutu.
Yet in 2021 the Chiefs stalwart has been back to his marauding best, playing an instrumental role from the base of the scrum as the Chiefs incredibly turned around a downward slump of their own to make the Super Rugby Aotearoa final.
Twelve Super Rugby appearances this year, including a start in every game of Trans-Tasman has seen Jacobson rack up four tries and frequent statistics charts – in the Trans-Tasman competition, featuring in the top ten players for carries and lineout steals and in Super Rugby Aotearoa, popping up among the top ten players for offloads.
To earn a place in the All Blacks is no mean feat, but to do it in light of the high level of competition in New Zealand rugby at the moment among the loose forwards, is especially commendable and testament to Jacobson’s excellent form this year.
Jacobson himself was keen to acknowledge his journey over the past eighteen months and admitted that hearing his name called out for the national side was not a feeling that dulls the second time around.
“I think the first time there was a lot more adrenaline around it, but I was just as excited this time,” he said. “I’d say that the first time was probably the most exciting. I’d probably say that this time around it feels a little bit more rewarding, just because of what I’ve been through and what I’ve had to do to get back here.”
A pair of former All Blacks greats, as well as an ex-Black Fern, have revealed who they believe should start for New Zealand in their first test this weekend. #AllBlacks #NZLvTGA https://t.co/pkjvMjtyUC
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 30, 2021
That journey back has involved plenty of hard work both at Super Rugby level and provincially, and whilst never allowing himself to be distracted from his work at club level by the prospect of a recall, the All Blacks was something that was nevertheless in Jacobson’s thoughts throughout this season.
“As soon as I left the environment, it was a goal of mine to get back in it,” he commented. “I’d had a taste of what it was like and I loved every moment of it, so it was always at the back of my head…as the big picture goal…wanting to get back into the All Blacks. But, as most players would say, when you’re in another competition you’ve just got to focus on what’s in front of you…focus on the smaller things week to week and how you can be the best ‘you’ you can be and what ‘work ons’ you need to nail away at.”
With his Super Rugby duties over for the time being, Jacobson can now fully focus on making what might be his return to the All Blacks playing squad this Saturday against Tonga in Auckland.
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