Chiefs tighthead not slowing down
When it comes to big boppers in rugby they don't get much bigger than Ben Tameifuna, and there is nothing he likes more than taking on other big boppers.
Having started the last nine matches in a row at tighthead prop and playing the full 80 minutes on Saturday night against the Lions at Pukekohe, the 20-year-old rookie is a fit 134kg and proving extremely hard for opposition front rowers to budge in scrums.
He is still able to get around the field impressively enough to do his share of tackling, cleaning out, mauling and ball carrying and has a good range of skills.
But there is nothing he likes more than fronting up against the best Super Rugby opposition front rowers at scrum time in his first season in the competition.
"Being the young buck I like to get in amongst it. Everything's come early and I've just taken it with both hands," Tameifuna said.
He said it was impossible to single out who his strongest opponent had been to date.
"Everyone's different with their styles. The South Africans like to muscle their way through scrums, the Kiwis like to use more technique and hitting as an eight, as a group, and the Australians are half and half – technique and muscle.
"Everyone's different in their own ways so you can't really say who's toughest."
That means a lot of learning. "It comes down to my preparation. I've got to watch who I've got at the weekend to see what he does, what he does after the hit, what happens before the hit, so it's a lot to learn.
"But through the under-20 grades and the ITM [Cup] and that I've learnt those techniques anyway. But I'm very excited to be here and I can't wait to get to the [Super Rugby] final."
Tameifuna said the coaches were testing him to see how far they could push him outside his comfort zone to see how far he could go both mentally and physically.
"I think I'm holding up quite well and the body's holding up."
So does he need a break after starting nine matches in a row? "No, I'd rather just keep on going."
He has had to reset his goals, having achieved all his original ones from the start of the season.
"All those targets have been met now and it's just a matter of setting new ones and trucking on.
"Just take my game to a new level every week and try and mix it up here and there – play it loose, play it tight – keep the opposition on their toes," he said.