Sopoaga not distracted by All Blacks talk

Date published: March 8 2016

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Lima Sopoaga won't let chatter about him becoming the next All Blacks fly-half distract him from the job ahead with the Highlanders.

Off the back of playing a pivotal role in guiding the Highlanders to last year's Super Rugby title, Sopoaga won his first and so far only Test cap against South Africa at Ellis Park.

Sopoaga then missed out on New Zealand's Rugby World Cup squad as they went on to win the tournament but with Dan Carter now having left the country, Sopoaga finds himself in a three-way battle for the vacant jersey alongside Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett.

New Zealand's next Test is months away against Wales in June but Sopoaga for now is philosophical about whether the chance comes his way again.

"You can't do much about selection, you can't get hung up on it. I've already felt what it's like to miss out, it doesn't faze me any more. Whatever happens, happens," Sopoaga told Stuff.

"For me it's always a team first approach, individual second."

Highlanders assistant Tony Brown spoke more lavishly about the 25-year-old's potential, picking out where he was improved and vowing that Sopoaga would only get better this season as the team improves around him.

"I think he's been really good. Along with our team he just needs to get a little bit better at execution stuff. It's early in the season, that's understandable," Brown said.

"I don't think anyone can park that sort of stuff [All Blacks speculation]. He'll be thinking about it but the key for him is to put it to one side and back his ability to do what he did last year… just be really confident in his skill set and go out and play.

"He's been super impressive for us running our plans and controlling our game. Defensively he made a couple of massive plays."

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