All Blacks: Patrick Tuipulotu raring to go after being called up for Ireland series

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Experienced second-row Patrick Tuipulotu has been recalled to the All Blacks squad as cover after Sam Whitelock was ruled out for the second Test against Ireland.

Whitelock suffered a delayed concussion after the first Test in Auckland and is a doubt for the remainder of the series, while Tupou Vaa’i remains sidelined with injury.

Chaotic call-up

Head coach Ian Foster called on Tuipulotu, who recently finished his stint in Japan, and the second-row admits he was surprised to get the call from the All Blacks.

“I wasn’t expecting to get called in this early,” said Tuipulotu. “I was just at home, pretty much getting (daughter) Pama ready – got a phone call from John Plumtree asking if I’d be available to come in. So here I am – and it’s good to be back in camp.”

Adding to the chaos was the situation with Tuipulotu’s partner Phoenix Karaka, who was in a camp with the New Zealand netball side, but his parents came to the rescue.

“It was quite a messy morning,” Tuipulotu said. “Phoe had been in camp since Sunday, in Wellington with the Silver Ferns. She gets out today so she’ll be back home with the little one but had to call my parents over – they were over pretty quick, as soon as I made the call, so pretty grateful for all of the family that can help out. I was able to sort the little one out before I could get here.”

The 41-Test All Black has not got a promising history against the Irish as he was part of the New Zealand side that lost to Ireland in Chicago in 2016.

“I haven’t had a good history with Ireland,” he said. “My first time I played against them was the first time we lost against Ireland in USA.

“Obviously, Ireland are a very good side now and we’ve seen that in their wins against the All Blacks. I’ve got to do my bit to put my hand up (to earn a spot in the matchday 23) but if not, I’ll do my bit to help the team prepare and get ready for a good Ireland team who are on the backfoot after last week.”

Rested and ready to go

Having been in the country for a while, Tuipulotu is rested and raring to go in the All Blacks set-up for the remainder of the series.

“I’m feeling very fresh,” he said. “I’ve been back for about a month and a half, two months now. I’ve actually enjoyed the time I’ve had at home with the family.

“Enjoyed playing out there (in Japan). The toll on the body isn’t the same as what I usually get here. That in itself is refreshing. Coming back now, it’s good to start running around with the All Blacks and getting the intensity back up to where it needs to be.”

READ MORE: All Blacks: Sam Cane looking for more from his side ahead of tricky second Test against Ireland


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