Filling Jesse Kriel's big shoes doesn't faze new Bulls centre Nafi Tuitavake

Tuitavake will be part of the Bulls backline that includes Warrick Gelant, Rosco Specman, Cornal Henrdicks and he is excited to play with them

28 January 2020 - 16:49 By Mahlatse Mphahlele
The Vodacom Bulls fans will want nothing but Super Rugby silverware at Loftus this season.
The Vodacom Bulls fans will want nothing but Super Rugby silverware at Loftus this season.
Image: Vodacom Bulls/Twitter

New Bulls centre Nafi Tuitavake is not daunted by the responsibility of filling the big shoes of departed Springboks star Jesse Kriel at Loftus.

Kriel, who was injured during the Springboks’ opening match of the Rugby World Cup against New Zealand last year, has joined Canon Eagles in Japan but the 31-year-old Tuitavake is ready to step up to the challenge.

“It is definitely big shoes to fill but I have to take the challenge with both hands,” said Tuitavake during his first interview since arriving in Pretoria recently.

“Whatever amount of opportunities I am going to get, I will try to make the most of them and I will always do my best to repay the faith the Bulls have showed in me.

"In my game, I cover both wing and centre but whatever position I am given I will give it my best shot,” added the New Zealand-born player, who plays for Tonga at international rugby.

Tuitavake, who broke his arm during the World Cup in Japan, said coming to South Africa to play for the Bulls during the coming Super Rugby campaign, which starts with a trip to the Sharks in Durban on Friday, is a unique opportunity.

“It is a great and unique opportunity for me to come to SA to play for a local franchise in Super Rugby.

"Not too many foreigners come to play here, this is a great club with a rich history and it is challenge that I was ready to take up. Here I am and so far, so good.

“At the World Cup, I broke my arm and I was back in New Zealand just resting. I had just started training when my agent came to see me and said that the Bulls were interested.

"He wanted to know if I would be interested in coming to Pretoria, I said I wanted to give it a try and everything happened so quickly. I got here, I am settled and trying to adjust to the altitude and the sun.

"The main thing for me is to try and weather the conditions but after a couple of more training sessions under the belt I'll be fully fit.

"I have played here at Loftus before with the Crusaders and I know it is a tough place to come and play.

“I have been overseas (Northampton Saints) for the past few years, now I am back playing Super Rugby and I want to help the team.

"I am one of the old guys in the team and looking forward to helping the youngsters.”

Tuitavake will be part of the Bulls backline that includes Warrick Gelant, Rosco Specman, Cornal Henrdicks and he is excited to play with them.

“I watched the match against the Lions, there is definitely some talent and good individuals in this team and I am looking forward to playing with them," he said.

"It has been a long time coming, finally I am here and just pleased to be among the boys. Everyone has been welcoming and they have made things a lot easy for me.”


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