Jordan Taufua spoke with us about his illustrious career which encapsules 101 game appearances for the Crusaders as well as appearances for Manu Samoa under 20’s, New Zealand Under 20’s, the World XV and The barbarians. However his most recent achievement might be his proudest one.
Taufua was picked to represent Manu Samoa last year by coach Seilala Mapusua which was a full circle moment for him after narrowly missing his international debut with the All Blacks due to a forearm injury.
“Walking into Manu Samoa, getting the phone call to be selected to play in the PNC, it hit me to my soul, to the bottom of my stomach and into my heart, I thought about mum and dad, my family back in Samoa and all the emotions that come with that. Finally getting to represent my blood, even though I was born in New Zealand, getting to represent my culture and my faith, I felt like a little kid getting a Christmas present for the first time”.
“Getting to see your people and everyone’s talking like you, walking like you, understanding the same thing, being through the same struggles. It’s like coming home, that feeling of coming home brings back so many memories”.
Taufua was a constant standout in the New Zealand NPC competition where he played a total of 64 games for Counties Manukau, Canterbury and Tasman, mixed with him being an integral part of the Crusaders dominance of the Super Rugby competition who he won 3 titles with.
Taufua is also the first Pacific islander to play 100 games for the Crusaders.
“I didn’t even realise until around 2018 that I was close to getting 100 games so I was like man I can really get this, so I thought man if this is going to be my last year I’m going to chase this 100 and be the first Pacific Islander to do it”.
“I wanted to be the change and the role model for the younger guys in South Auckland or anywhere in New Zealand that if I can do it, you can do it”.
In 2018 he was originally a part of the All Blacks squad for a mid-year test series against France,. However he didn’t get the opportunity to debut due to a broken forearm and a tear in his calf. The 30-year-old Taufua was not called upon for selection again.
Taufua struggled at the time with the disappointment of not getting his chance with the All Blacks but was able to push through his tough times thanks to his faith and support systems around him.
“Man from going from a high from being named to being out all of June, man you go from high to low quickly. I wasn’t depressed, I was just sad and guttered because I knew why I couldn’t play and I knew it was avoidable”.
“For me to go from a high to a low, for basically 2 days I had a pity party and felt sorry for myself but then after that I switched my goals and trained hard for 6 weeks straight. First game back in the first 20 minutes I broke my forearm which took me out for 2 and a half months and I missed the end of year tour”.
“That hit me hard. I’ve been dealt a lot of setbacks in my career but it’s turned me into the man that I am today. Good people around me, my family and my faith got me through”.
Taufua departed overseas in 2019 to play for the Leicester Tigers for two seasons, he is now playing for Lyon in the Top 14 competition in France.
“Leaving to go overseas, they know who you are but they don’t care, they treat you as a newbie and you’re kind of starting again. Scott Robertson told me not to reinvent the wheel or go against the current, some things I just didn’t understand. After 4 months I understood the way they wanted to play and I was always learning new things”.
Taufua has recently had a successful surgery after rupturing his tendon in his C1/C2 which takes 4-5 months to recover from. But Taufua still believes that barring no setbacks he will be back in July meaning he is available for selection for the World cup.
“I’ve got to make the team first and at the moment I’m just trying to take it one day at a time but the end goal is to play in the Rugby World cup and it’s in France which is where i’m based and they love their Rugby so it will be quite a buzzy experience”.
Taufua would bring a veteran presence to an already well rounded team who concluded their 2022 campaign with a total of 5 wins and 1 loss against a strong Italy side. Heading into the 2023 season with the Rugby World Cup on the horizon Taufua would be a vocal point of the Manu Samoa side that is in a pool with the likes of Japan, Argentina and England.
Although Taufua still has a lot of rugby ahead of him, recent injuries have given clarity on his future journey once he hangs the boots up after a successful career.
“I’ve been lucky to be in Rugby for 10 years, but i’m interested in finance and looking to do my papers in finance as I enjoy it and I want to build up my assets and help our people out with knowledge around money and finance as I believe there isn’t much of a pathway set up for it in New Zealand”.
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Article written by:
Kace O’Neill & Vanessa Leota