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Tialata Repays 'Lot Of Love' From Coaches

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Fuseworks Media
Tialata Repays 'Lot Of Love' From Coaches

By Mark Geenty of NZPA

Marseille, Nov 27 NZPA - Neemia Tialata is proud of hitting 1000 followers on his Twitter page. But, thankfully, that is not the All Blacks prop's biggest achievement of 2009.

Reclaiming his spot as his country's premier tighthead was a world away from early in the Tri-Nations when Tialata was sent back to Wellington to get fit and youngster Owen Franks grabbed his chance.

It was anxious times for the 27-year-old, who vented his anger at the Wellington Rugby Union via social networking site Facebook when it would not include him in provincial side.

Looking back, he says complacency got the better of him.

"There was a little bit of that. I played a few tests and then got a bit comfortable, especially not knowing what the young fells was like, Franksy coming through and he played well and deserved to get those few starts," Tialata said.

"I went away and needed to work on a lot of things and I'm happy with where I am now."

After a gap of almost two months following the South African tour, Tialata was recalled to face the Wallabies in Wellington where the All Blacks produced their most decisive win of the year.

He was rewarded with another start in Tokyo and never looked back.

Coach Graham Henry admitted this week the selectors gave Tialata "a lot of love", and he repaid them by playing the best rugby of his 40-test international career.

Said Henry: "He's been responsible for that. He's got himself in great shape, the best shape he's been in since he's played international rugby so he's looked after himself."

Henry said the challenge now was for Tialata to return from the off-season in good shape and string some performances together.

Tialata is well aware of the selectors' show of faith, and that the love could fast run out.

"I'm actually one of the luckiest ones in the squad. Obviously I can cover both sides (of the scrum) but I've been given a few chances. It's not going to happen again.

"It was more enjoying what I'm doing. Seeing how lucky I am to do what I do every day.

"That's been my attitude ever since coming back for that Wellington test. Ever since then I've been enjoying everything and it seems to be going well, and I'm feeding off the rest of the team as well."

He is excited about clunking heads with French loosehead Fabien Barcella and a powerful home scrum here on Sunday (NZT), and hopes there is none of the drama he saw in Italy.

Tialata was sinbinned after repeated scrum resets in Milan, but Australian referee Stuart Dickinson was later admonished by his boss Paddy O'Brien for wrongly penalising the All Blacks.

"France are pretty good up front, as long as we can get consistency from the referee (Irishman Alain Rolland) and the officials it should be all on.

"I'm not happy with where I am at the moment, I want to get better and finish off strong leading into next year."


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