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    Tuipulotu eyes 'major role' for All Blacks

    2016-04-20 09:50

    Wellington - Lock Patrick Tuipulotu said he was gunning for next year's Lions tour and the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup defence as he committed to New Zealand and the Blues until the end of 2019.

    Tuipulotu has played seven Tests so far in an injury-blighted career, but he is seen as long-term back-up for established All Blacks locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock.

    The 23-year-old said he was enjoying playing under Blues coach Tana Umaga and wanted to resume his international career.

    "Next year the (British and Irish) Lions are coming to New Zealand which would be great to be part of," he said in a statement released by New Zealand Rugby on Wednesday.

    "Injury meant I missed a chance to play in the World Cup (last year), so long term I would love to be at the next one (in Japan in 2019)."

    All Blacks coach Steve Hansen confirmed Tuipulotu was a big part of his plans for the world champions. New Zealand have a policy of not selecting overseas-based players for international duty.

    "He's a player who we feel has huge potential and we are expecting him to play a major role for the All Blacks over this period and even beyond," Hansen said.

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