Cape Town - New Zealand Rugby have announced that Chiefs prop Karl
Tu'inukuafe will join the All Blacks squad as an injury replacement for Tim
Perry injured a hamstring on the final day of the All
Blacks' training camp in Auckland on Tuesday.
Tu'inukuafe's inclusion in the world champions' squad is a
surprise selection as he didn't have a Super Rugby contract at the start of the
The 25-year-old, who plays for North Harbour in the Mitre 10
Cup, admitted that his call-up caught him by surprise.
"I got a missed call, and then a text, it was from the
manager, Darren Shand," Tu’inukuafe told Stuff.
"And I just called him back and he said
'Congratulations'. It was unreal.
"It was just a nice surprise to wake up to, for
He started playing for North Harbour in 2015 and joined
Narbonne in France's Pro D2 competition later that year before returning to New
Zealand in 2016.
Tu’inukuafe made his Super Rugby debut with the Chiefs in
2018 and only recently cemented his place in the Hamilton-based franchise's
run-on side after six appearances off the replacements bench.
Chiefs head coach Colin Cooper believes Tu’inukuafe's All
Blacks selection is a fitting reward for a hard working player.
"I guess that's the signal to all players in this
country - work hard, understand what you're capable of, and put your best foot
forward," he said.
A renowned scrummager, Tu’inukuafe's rise up the ranks has
been a rapid one and Chiefs co-captain Sam Cane has witnessed the prop's confidence
grow since he joined the side at the start of the season.
"When he first came in he was hesitant to do some
drills, he was like 'Oh I'm not very good at this, or that'," explained
"His confidence really comes off the back of his
"He's very mobile for a big man too. He'd be the first
to admit when he came in here fitness was, probably still is, a bit of a work
on. But his ability to push himself and work hard and want to make those
adjustments, he doesn't let it hold him back, he empties the tank each