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'Underwhelmed': Ex-internationals at odds over Quinn Tupaea's recent form

By Luke Petherick
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

A trio of former New Zealand internationals have offered contrasting views about the performance of Chiefs midfielder Quinn Tupaea in his side’s Super Rugby Pacific defeat to the Brumbies on Saturday.

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Tupaea has had a solid, if unspectacular, Super Rugby Pacific season thus far, being called upon to start on the left wing for the Chiefs, as well as being relegated to the bench at times.

However, the 22-year-old finally seems to be finding his best form, starring for the Hamilton-based franchise in their 38-28 loss two days ago.

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That spurred All Blacks great Sir John Kirwan to praise the youngster, who he said on The Breakdown had endured a tumultuous campaign where he has battled for selection against the in-form Alex Nankivell and injured Anton Lienert-Brown.

“I think that it has been a hard year for him, and he needed to get back and have a strong game. I think he has his ups and downs during the game,” Kirwan said.

“From what I have seen from him he is definitely All Black material, and he can go a long way, but he just needs consistency around the little parts of the game.

“I think it was a really big statement from him last night because he has been under selection pressure. I like what he brought on attack last night I would just like to see him back that up next week.”

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Former Maori All Blacks lock Joe Wheeler was more straightforward in his assessment of Tupaea’s efforts, though, calling into question his defensive performance in the defeat to Super Rugby Pacific’s second-ranked team last Saturday.

“I thought he was okay… I think his attack was outstanding, but defensively he missed a few tackles which is surprising for me.” Wheeler said.

“That is probably his work on is his defensive work. We obviously know he is a premium attacker, but on the other side of the ball I was a little bit underwhelmed.”

On the opposite side of the coin, ex-All Blacks wing Jeff Wilson was more positive in his outlook on how Tupaea fared against the Brumbies.

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“It was his best attacking game of the season,” Wilson told The Breakdown.”He was creating for the players around him which is something we desperately need in the midfield.”

The trio’s comments come at a time when Tupaea looms as a contender for the national No 12 jersey, a vacancy in the All Blacks that has no lead candidate vying to fill that spot.

Since the 2019 World Cup, the All Blacks have tried and tested a number of different midfield combinations, with Tupaea, Lienert-Brown, Jack Goodhue and David Havili all spending time in the No 12 jersey for New Zealand.

As such, it remains unclear who head coach Ian Foster is likely to select leading into the 2023 World Cup in France.

Tupaea started at second-five in the final game of the All Blacks season against France last year, but struggled to play his best rugby as the Kiwis fell short in a 40-25 defeat at Stade de France.

Nevertheless, with international experience now in his arsenal, Tupaea may get the first nod against Ireland in July’s three-test tour of New Zealand, although much of that will come down to his form throughout the rest of Super Rugby Pacific.

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mitch 1 hours ago
The Wallabies team Joe Schmidt must pick to win back Bledisloe Cup

Rodda will be a walk up starter at lock. Frost if you analyse his dominance has little impact and he’s a long way from being physical enough, especially when you compare to Rodda and the work he does. He was quite poor at the World Cup in his lack of physicality. Between Rodda and Skelton we would have locks who can dominate the breakdown and in contact. Frost is maybe next but Schmidt might go for a more physical lock who does their core work better like Ryan or LSL. Swain is no chance unless there’s a load of injuries. Pollard hasn’t got the scrum ability yet to be considered. Nasser dominated him when they went toe to toe and really showed him up. Picking Skelton effects who can play 6 and 8. Ideally Valetini would play 6 as that’s his best position and Wilson at 8 but that’s not ideal for lineout success. Cale isn’t physical enough yet in contact and defence but is the best backrow lineout jumper followed by Wright, Hanigan and Swinton so unfortunately Valetini probably will start at 8 with Wright or Hanigan at 6. Wilson on the bench, he’s got too much quality not to be in the squad. Paisami is leading the way at 12 but Hamish Stewart is playing extremely well also and his ball carrying has improved significantly. Beale is also another option based on the weekend. Beale is class but he’s also the best communicator of any Australian backline player and that can’t be underestimated, he’ll be in the mix.

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