Auckland-born NSW Waratahs prop Angus Ta’avao admits he still has “a lot of love and care” for a Blues outfit he’ll be trying to beat at their Eden Park fortress.
Ta’avao is coming toward the end of the first of his two seasons with NSW, having played 48 games for the Blues.
A quirk of the Super Rugby draw will send him back to his favourite professional venue on Friday for a match the Tahs must win to have any chance of making the playoffs.
“It’s a team I’ve got a lot of love and care for,” Ta’avao said of the Blues.
“I spent five years there, so it’s a big part of my rugby development, but I’m really excited by the challenge.”
He said there hadn’t been much banter yet with his former teammates and joked he might start some himself.
Unlike most of his current teammates Ta’avao has experience of winning at Eden Park, which he said the Blues treated like a fortress
But he also knows what it’s like to be part of a visiting team.
“I had a little taste when I moved from the Auckland ITM Cup team down to Taranaki, it felt a bit weird,” Ta’avao said.
“When I get out there I love Eden Park as a field, so it’s just going to be awesome to be back there and playing.”
He’s passed on the odd tip about the Blues, but said the Tahs coaching staff had covered them pretty well.
“The front row and talking about scrum-wise there’s just a couple of little things I know,” Ta’avao said.
“But everyone really knows how (the Blues) play. They are pretty expansive, they like to play with the ball and they’ve got some really great players with X-factor.”
Although disappointed his minutes have been limited in recent rounds after he lost the run on spot he had at the start of the season, Ta’avao still aspires to represent Australia, the country where his mother was born.