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One to Watch: New Zealand’s Quinn Tupaea

One to Watch: New Zealand’s Quinn Tupaea

Quinn Tupaea

“The thing I enjoy most about rugby is carrying the ball, beating defenders and attacking.”

Even if it is his own words, it’s a pretty apt description of Quinn Tupaea’s game.

A star for Chiefs and provincial side Waikato, the 22-year-old centre, who was a former New Zealand Secondary Schools captain, burst onto the scene for the latter in 2018.

Autumn Nations Series fixtures

His standout performances for Waikato, which also earned him a spot in the 2019 New Zealand U20s squad, led to an impressive debut season for the Chiefs in 2020’s Super Rugby competition before it was curtailed by COVID-19.

So impressive were his performances for the Chiefs, he was named their rookie of the year for 2020 despite them only playing six Super Rugby games that season.

A knee injury earlier this season against the Highlanders in Super Rugby Aotearoa looked to potentially have scuppered Tupaea’s campaign.

But the centre recovered ahead of schedule, impressing on his return to action during the latter half of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.

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Quinn Tupaea

2021 has seen Tupaea break into the All Blacks squad, making his debut for Ian Foster’s side in a 102-0 win over Tonga.

And his first cap against Tonga came as quite a shock to the Chiefs centre.

Preparing to feature for the Maori All Blacks ahead of their two-Test series against Manu Samoa, Tupaea’s schedule was flipped on its head when Foster announced he would be starting against Tonga.

“Everyone had to come watch the team get announced,” explained Tupaea.

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“We thought someone was going to get named, but I definitely didn’t think it was going to be me.

“I just heard my name get called out and sort of went blank.

“I didn’t really know how to react. I was as surprised as anyone else in that room.”

Two starts against Argentina followed in the Rugby Championship, which the All Blacks won in convincing fashion 36-13 and 39-0 respectively, before making an appearance off the bench against the Springboks in a nail biting 19-17 win.

A smooth runner who is fleet of foot, Tupaea doesn’t shy away from his defensive duties either, comfortably capable of dolling out hits like Ma’a Nonu and Sonny Bill Williams, who he names amongst his rugby idols.

Dalton Papalii celebrates after scoring a try with Quinn Tupaea

The latter’s talent was on full display for the Chiefs back in 2012 when they won the Super Rugby title against the Sharks 37-6, a memory that Tupaea recalls fondly.

He was after all in the Waikato Stadium stands that day, and is now following firmly in Williams’ footsteps in the All Blacks No.12 jersey.

Alongside Williams, that Chiefs backline featured the likes of Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Aaron Cruden and Tim Nanai-Williams – not a bad bunch of backs to set an example to you.

New Zealand always seem to have a deep pool of talent in a host of positions.

That Tupaea is involved in a stacked All Blacks squad emphasises his undoubted quality.

New Zealand will face off against Wales (30 October), Italy (6 November), Ireland (13 November) and finally France (20 November) in their Autumn Nations Series campaign.

With four caps to his name, Tupaea could certainly add to his burgeoning reputation in the Autumn Nations Series, establishing himself as a regular fixture at Test level with some standout performances, should he be called upon.

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