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Timoci Tavatavanawai looks to continue rise with Highlanders

Timoci Tavatavanawai looks to continue rise with Highlanders

All BlacksMarch 29, 2024

Impressive Highlanders wing Timoci Tavatavanawai is looking forward to the DHL Super Rugby Pacific challenge against the Hurricanes in Dunedin on Saturday.

He said the Highlanders were connecting as a combination, building as a team, and trusting each other was how they looked to win games, and winning small moments would go a long way to ending the Hurricanes' unbeaten run.

Tavatavanawai, 26, is a former Fiji Under-20 international who played two seasons and 20 games for Moana Pasifika and has made 31 appearances for Tasman since 2021.

He said it was a difficult decision to leave Moana Pasifika after two good years with the side, and he was happy where he was. But joining the Highlanders was an opportunity to try something different over his two-year contract.

"It's been a big shift and a bit colder, as we're starting to find out now, but I had to adapt to it like I did in 2021 when I was down here. [He was part of the Highlanders, and Crusaders, development squads]."

While coming under the auspices of a New Zealand rugby contract with the Highlanders made him eligible for selection for the All Blacks, he said his main goal was to fit into the Highlanders and how they played."

Making the All Blacks or the Fiji Test side is a goal after performing for the Highlanders.

Your Highlanders team to take on the to of the table Hurricanes 🔥 pic.twitter.com/qfy6Gy15I2

— Highlanders (@Highlanders) March 27, 2024

Fijian players had made their mark with the Highlanders in the past, and he looked up to their example while growing up. He said he hasn't always been a wing. He played second five-eighths for much of his youth, and it was only when he was 18 that he switched to the wing.

But, his earlier experience was an option for the Highlanders should they need him to move inside, as he did for the latter part of last week's game with the Brumbies.

At the moment, he is concentrating on developing his kicking game, which he feels is a weakness he needs to improve.

He has also shown his ability under the high ball and credited former All Black and Highlanders star Ben Smith for helping him.

"Being able to come down here and get under Ben's wing was a help. He has taught me a lot."

Tavatavanawai said he likes working hard on his game during and after training to nail the critical habits. With a young group he's playing alongside, it was important to step up and use his experience to drive the outside backs to where they wanted to reach.

Round 6 incoming! 🛬#SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/Vlg8WK0BCg

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) March 27, 2024

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