‘Transformed’ Patrick Tuipulotu enjoying his return to the Blues

Patrick Tuipulotu Blues 2021 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy

Patrick Tuipulotu Blues 2021 – PA.jpg Credit: Alamy

All Blacks second row Patrick Tuipulotu expects to return to the Blues, after playing in Japan in 2022, and believes he is returning to New Zealand as a more complete player.

Tuipulotu said on his return to the Blues he realized the game has changed a lot for the tight ends and admitted he will have to accept that change if he wants to be in the Rugby World Cup squad New Zealand in France later this year.

Feels like a new player at the Blues

Despite being an experienced leader with almost 100 appearances for the Blues, he feels like a new player after being asked out for the Auckland franchise’s 2022 Pacific Super Rugby campaign.

“[There were] a lot of young boys when I came back in,” Tuipulotu told Newshub. “I didn’t know their faces, I didn’t know their names.

“In that aspect, it was good to get to know everyone again. It’s like the first day at school.”

However, the 30-year-old feels he has also learned a lot during his season as a Toyota Verblitz player in Japan’s Rugby League One competition. He returns to the Blues mentally and his spell in Japan has shown him that he needs to evolve.

“Over the last few years, the game has changed,” he said. “Not just your locks, but your tight starts too.

“You have to be able to play a lot more, you have to be fitter.”

Tuipulotu is known for carrying the ball but has improved in other areas of his game and has credited former All Blacks boss Steve Hansen, who is Toyota Verblitz’s director of rugby, with helping him with that improvement.

“I have a lot of respect for Steve Hansen,” he said. “He had a big impact on me while I was over there.”

Hansen forced him to improve his speed around the pitch, which is a prerequisite for the modern second string.

Tuipulotu is more appreciative of the requirements needed to return to the All Blacks and keep his place in the squad.

“Going around the hole faster, you have to work through a lot of pain to try to be faster,” he explained. “I learned a lot from it [South Africa’s] Pieter-Steph du Toit in our team too.”

Meanwhile, Blues head coach Leon MacDonald has already noticed the Tuipulotu change and is excited to have such a vital player back in his pack.

Watching the World Cup scene

“He’s got good energy,” said MacDonald of Tuipulotu. “He is very motivated to go to the World Cup.

“He’s in good shape physically, and he’s quite refreshed after a bit of time away.”

With the prospect of being involved in a second consecutive World Cup, Tuipulotu is ready to apply the lessons learned in Japan at the Blues.

“The main goal is to play well for the Blues, and if I do that well, everything else takes care of itself,” he said.

READ MORE: Super Rugby Pacific: Ardie Savea captains Hurricanes again

The article Super Rugby Pacific: ‘Transformed’ Patrick Tuipulotu relishes return to Blues appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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