All Blacks and France in tug-of-war for teenage sensation as Hurricanes starlet ‘wanted’ by five Top 14 giants

Colin Newboult
Patrick Tuifua following France U20s Six Nations clash with Ireland.

Patrick Tuifua following France U20s Six Nations clash with Ireland.

A young back-row who lit up the U20 Six Nations will have a difficult decision to make over the next year as he maps out his future.

Patrick Tuifua impressed for France in the recent age-grade tournament, playing the opening two games against Ireland and Scotland before he returned to New Zealand.

Born in New Caledonia, a French territory in the Pacific Ocean, he is currently only available for Les Bleus, but that will change soon.

Move to New Zealand

Having moved to New Zealand at the age of 15 in 2020, he will become eligible for the All Blacks in 2025 due to World Rugby’s five-year residency rule.

Tuifua started playing rugby at Jeunesse Sports et Loisirs de Normandie but was spotted at an amateur tournament by Lindisfarne College, who offered him a scholarship in New Zealand.

Since then, he has made his way up the ranks in the southern hemisphere and signed a long-term deal with Hawke’s Bay.

The back-row, who can operate at either flanker or number eight, made his debut in the NPC in 2023 before he was selected in the French U20 squad.

However, Tuifua has been part of the Hurricanes’ age-grade system since 2022 and was recalled in the middle of the Six Nations ahead of the U20 Super Rugby Pacific tournament.

That is potentially with a view to making his debut with the Hurricanes’ first team as they look to tie him down for the long-term.

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Contract situation

The talented forward is currently contracted to Hawke’s Bay until the end of 2025 and unsurprisingly Top 14 clubs are getting concerned.

Bringing in Tuifua will see them add a massive talent to their ranks while he is also someone who will count towards their home-grown stocks.

Toulon, Montpellier and Stade Francais have already expressed a keen interest, according to reports in France, with the former inviting him down to look around their facilities, but two more teams have entered the fray.

Midi Olympique have claimed that the back-row has visited La Rochelle as the club look for a replacement for Yoan Tanga, who is set to leave at the end of the season.

Finally, Clermont Auvergne is another outfit who are possibly seeking to sign Tuifua and are positioning themselves accordingly as this transfer saga hots up.

Those sides may fail in their respective bids, however, as the general consensus is that the 19-year-old has set his sights on playing for the All Blacks, but France U20 coach Sébastien Calvet insists that it’s not as simple as that.

“A lot of people talk, say he would like to play for the All Blacks but it’s not exactly that when you talk to him. He wants to play Super Rugby, he has set himself this objective of playing it with the Hurricanes franchise,” Calvet said last month.

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