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Naitoa Ah Kuoi celebrates contract extension with showdown against Blues

Naitoa Ah Kuoi celebrates contract extension with showdown against Blues

All BlacksMay 29, 2024

Chiefs lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi will celebrate his two-year contract extension by lining up against old rivals, the Blues, in the final round of the regular season in DHL Super Rugby Pacific on Saturday.

Ah Kuoi said the Hurricanes, to whom the Chiefs lost in the last minutes on Friday, the Blues, and the Brumbies were the powerhouses of the competition, so it was good to play against the top two teams.

"We can get a feel for the coming weeks. After this week, it's going to get harder and harder. It started with the Rebels and from that moment the games were just getting tougher and tougher, so that is preparing us well for the quarterfinal."

Ah Kuoi said the Chiefs' environment and culture appealed to him. It started from the top and flowed through the team. 

"Guys like Pita Gus [Sowakula] just talking to me like he'd known me my whole life. I had never met him. And there are people like that who are so welcoming and it makes you feel comfortable as soon as you step your foot in the door. The same goes with the people in the back office."

That care from within the organisation made performing well on the field easier.

Naitoa Ah Kuoi re-signs with @ChiefsRugby until 2026 πŸ“ #SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/B1cXGUbofE

β€” Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) May 27, 2024

That would continue at the weekend with the 'Battle of the Bombays'.

He said beating the Blues would be a big confidence booster for the quarterfinal.

Ah Kuoi said he was pleased the Chiefs forward coach Ross Filipo has been appointed coach of the Māori All Blacks.

"For him it's a special achievement. It's something that he'll be very proud of."

Ah Kuoi said Filipo had influenced his career, especially as a similar type of player who could play flanker or lock.

"We spoke a lot before he came in when he was with Waikato. He's so approachable. He sees the game differently from where I see it, so it's nice. He said he'd be hard on me. He wants the best for me, along with all the other coaches.

"We've both had a bit of time in Wellington so we have those similarities. I appreciate everything he's down around here and even off-field. He's such a good man."

A nail-biter! 😱

Who rounds out the last #SuperRugbyPacific finals spot in round 15? pic.twitter.com/JaRA80fAbY

β€” Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) May 27, 2024

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