All Black tighthead prop Angus Ta’avao is looking forward to getting stuck in to arguably the best front row in world rugby when they take on the Springboks in the opening game of the Rugby Championship at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 5:05pm).
Ta’avao believes it is going to be an exciting clash and he is looking forward to his first start against the Boks and first game in South Africa, having previously played off the bench twice against them in 2019 in Wellington and Yokohama.
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“The journey I’ve been on and to be here now, named starting tighthead against a massive foe that we love to go against,” said Ta’avao.
“We have talked about the great battles that have been going on over the last few years and just what a unique and exciting place it is to play over here and the challenge that it is.
“As a rugby player that’s what we want to do. We want to play against the best on the world’s stage. We have had an awesome week building up to it and I am just really looking forward to getting stuck in.”
Inexperienced front row
Ta’avao is one of the more experienced heads in the All Blacks two front rows, starting and on the bench, with himself (22 caps) and fellow prop Tyrel Lomax (14 caps) having made their debut in 2018.
Props George Bower and Ethan de Groot and hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho all made their debuts last year, while replacement hooker Dane Coles is by far the most experienced head and will look bring his massive experience on in the second half.
“I am probably one of the older ones but it terms of the All Blacks I am relatively green. But I have played with Samisoni a lot at Super Rugby level and the way George Bower has been playing, he’s probably been one of our better players recently,” said Ta’avao.
“So I will try add in what I can, but I need to make sure I nail my stuff first and then we can just grow together.
“We have been doing little connection things this week and getting around each other, because although me and Soni have played together quite a lot we haven’t played with George much. So we are feeling pretty good.”