All Black set to hit Blues milestone after a nine-year absence

David Skippers
Angus Ta'avao All Blacks training 2019 - Alamy.jpg

Experienced Blues and All Blacks front-row Angus Ta'avao.

Experienced All Blacks front-row Angus Ta’avao is back in familiar surroundings with the Blues and relishing the opportunity of representing the club at Super Rugby level again.

It’s at the Blues where the 33-year-old started his Super Rugby career in 2012 – after a two-year stint with Auckland in New Zealand’s National Provincial Championship (NPC) – and on Saturday, he will make his 50th appearance for the team, nine years after last playing for them.

Keen to make his Blues return

Needless to say, Ta’avao, who can pack down on the tighthead and loosehead side of the scrum, is excited to make his return for the Blues, who kick off their 2024 campaign against the Fijian Drua in Whangārei.

What makes his Blues return extra special is that he spent most of the last two years on the sidelines after sustaining a serious spinal injury while playing for Auckland in an NPC quarter-final win over North Harbour in Albany in 2022.

He returned to action with Auckland in last year’s NPC, and after completing his pre-season preparation with the Blues, he is set to play his first competitive game for them this weekend.

“After that game on Saturday, I feel like I still have a lot of work to do,” he told the All Blacks’ official website. “But it’s been nice and refreshing having fun in here with the team.”

Despite his impending return to action, Ta’avao has sympathy for fellow All Black Will Jordan, who will miss the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific campaign due to a shoulder injury.

“To see him miss out after what he’s been doing for the Crusaders over the last few years and the impact he has had… But knowing him, you know he’s a resilient man. He’s got a lot of things outside rugby. I know he’ll bounce back,” he said.

With him being an Auckland boy, Ta’avao said the Blues were the team he always wanted to represent. Apart from his 49 games for them, he has also made 22 appearances for the Waratahs in 2016 and 2017 and played 62 matches for the Chiefs from 2018 to 2023.

“The positive from that is you’re in different environments. You can take little things from there. You can bring a bit of experience and help some of the young blokes coming through,” he explained.

Excited to play under Vern Cotter

Ta’avao expects big things from the men from Auckland in this year’s competition, especially under the guidance of their new head coach, Vern Cotter, who knows what he wants from the team.

“That’s the beauty about him; he doesn’t tiptoe around things. He’s honest. He’ll let you know what he’s thinking. But also, he’s not the sort of guy where you feel like you can’t go up, have a bit of a joke, and have a conversation,” he said.

“Vern’s very much an open book, and he’s passionate. I didn’t know this, but he’s from Devonport, and he’s an Auckland boy, and he’s passionate about the Blues winning this competition, and when you feel that passion, and where he’s from and he brings, it just carries you along.”

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