Luatua sees advantage in versatility

A loose forward by preference, Steven Luatua has no complaints about moving to lock if it gets him on the field.

With Blues coach Tana Umaga opting to have specialist Patrick Tuipulotu come off the bench against the Hurricanes, Luatua started in the engine room in the 23-19 Super Rugby defeat last Friday.

Luatua says he’s happy to fill in, seeing versatility as an advantage for him.

“It’s different, but I definitely enjoy it,” said Luatua, ahead of Saturday’s clash with Queensland in Brisbane.

“I just enjoy being on the field to be honest. It’s always a bonus being able to play a few positions.”

Luatua’s first preference is blindside flanker, but accepts that All Blacks star Jerome Kaino has the No.6 locked down.

That leaves him in a battle for the No.8 spot, where the options include sevens star Akira Ioane, who started against the Hurricanes.

The coming year is shaping as a key one for the 24-year-old Luatua, the last of whose 14 Tests was in 2014.

He was dropped from the end-of-year tour that year, and then sat out the second half of 2015 after shoulder surgery.

The length of time on the sidelines was tough, but it did allow him to further his studies for a Bachelor of Sport degree at Unitech.

In terms of his rugby, Luatua said the big learning from the last 18 months was the need for consistency, as exemplified by other All Blacks loose forwards like Kaino and Kieran Read.

“If you look at the guys who have been top of the table or been in positions year-in, year-out, consistency is key,” he said.

“For me as a young loose forward coming through, that’s something I have to pick up as well.”

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