Halfback Adams made for Southland Stags
New Zealand might not have had the best tournament at the World Junior Rugby Championships, but it has been a springboard for Southland halfback Tayler Adams.
The New Zealand under-20 team had never finished worse than second in the IRB tournament, and had won the title four times in five attempts, but were knocked out at the semifinal stage by England, in France earlier this year.
They went on to lose the bronze-medal game to South Africa.
But for Adams, the chance to play on the international stage was a great opportunity.
"It was a huge learning curve for me," the 19-year-old Stags halfback said, ahead of Saturday's round-three NPC game against Taranaki.
"It's really helped me coming back into this environment. Now I'm not just in the background listening, I can offer opinions. That's helped, being at that higher level, and being around players who have been at that Super Rugby level."
Adams, who made his Southland debut in the record loss to Canterbury last season, said his goals for the NPC were simple.
"For me it was just to get fit after 20s. It was real hard to go to 20s, represent New Zealand at such a big tournament, and then come back and be switched on for ITM, a provincial comp.
"I just wanted to get fit, get a starting spot, and if I've got the starting spot, just keep it and do my best in a Stags jersey."
That was no given, especially with Southland able to call on Fijian test halfback, Nemia Kenatale.
"He's an international halfback, he's played at World Cups," Adams said.
"There's a lot of pressure to keep performing, but I think that's the joy of it, you want to play in those pressure moments, and I think that's what makes me work harder, and want it that much more."
Last Saturday's loss to Northland had been as difficult a game to play in as it was to watch, Adams said.
"We created so many opportunities and we just couldn't seem to finish it off. It was a bit slow, a lot of stoppages with the ref, but it was also exciting with the opportunities we did create," he said.
"It's just those one or two little things that are stopping us finishing off. If we could do that we would be scoring 20, 30 points on teams. That's the exciting thing - we haven't got a win, but we've been close, it's just those finishing touches."
The Southland Times