Steven Luatua responds to coach's wake-up call

TONY SMITH
Last updated 13:42 28/07/2014
Steven Luatua
Getty Images
REPRIEVE: Steven Luatua has been named in the All Blacks' Rugby Championship squad as a replacement for Wellington backrower Victor Vito.

Relevant offers

All Blacks

Sabbatical could keep Jerome Kaino on NZ Rugby books English club Wasps confirm the signing of one-test All Black Frank Halai Faumuina wants to be top of the props for All Blacks All Blacks prop Charlie Faumuina re-signs with New Zealand rugby and rebuffs French cash Victory in the ring crucial for Sonny Bill Williams' sporting master plan Ben Franks confirms London Irish deal New Zealand rugby wages put into perspective as rich list revealed Jerome Kaino targeted by French and British clubs One-test All Black Frank Halai set to leave New Zealand and sign with Wasps Gifford: Former All Blacks lock Ali Williams' clowning masked rugby skills

Recalled flanker Steven Luatua has responded to coach Steve Hansen's "wake-up call" by winning back his place in the All Blacks squad.

Luatua had an impressive rookie season for the All Blacks last year, when he made 11 test appearances, but he reported back for Super Rugby duty in less than tip-top shape.

He was dropped for the All Blacks' three-test series against England in June and given a blunt message to improve his fitness.

But the Blues backrower has been given a reprieve after being named for the Rugby Championship squad as a replacement for Wellington backrower Victor Vito, who is out with a bulging disc in his neck.

Hansen said Luatua had come back "a different athlete".

"It's a fitness thing that's changed, I guess that's set by his attitude," Hansen said.

Asked how fit Luatua was, Hansen said: "Fitter than you and me.

"He's improved immensely in his aerobic area to the point where we are happy to select him. He's back where he should be."

Luatua, by his own admission, had fronted for the Super competition "not as well as should be, and he paid the price for that", Hansen said.

"If you care enough about the jersey, and most people who have been in there do, then it is a wake-up call. But it's one that a lot of athletes have had."

Jerome Kaino had faced a similar situation in 2004 when the All Blacks "took him to the UK and he wasn't ready, he wasn't fit enough", Hansen said.

"He spent some time on the sideline, but he came back and became the best No 6 in world rugby.

"I think Steven's got that ability as well. He can come back and be a very good athlete, and a very good All Black."

The All Blacks were hopeful Vito's injury would settle down with a few weeks' rest and were confident Crusaders lock Luke Romano was also on track to return later this season after breaking his lower leg in May, Hansen said.

Ad Feedback

- Stuff

Special offers
Opinion poll

Who was the best-performed All Blacks forward on the northern tour?

Dane Coles

Nathan Harris

Keven Mealamu

Wyatt Crockett

Charlie Faumuina

Ben Franks

Owen Franks

Joe Moody

Brodie Retallick

Luke Romano

Jeremy Thrush

Patrick Tuipulotu

Sam Whitelock

Sam Cane

Jerome Kaino

Richie McCaw

Liam Messam

Kieran Read

Vitor Vito

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content