This article initially appeared on Stuff and is reproduced with permission
Shaun Stevenson will put a possible NRL transfer on maintain, and has been assured a beginning spot on the Chiefs in 2023 as he stays set on chasing his All Blacks dream.
Reports surfaced this month that the 26-yr-outdated had been contacted by legendary rugby league coach Wayne Bennett a few code swap to the brand new Dolphins franchise.
And within the wake of impressing for the Māori All Blacks in opposition to Ireland, a chic NPC season for North Harbour and lacking out on choice within the All Blacks XV to tour north subsequent month, hypothesis had heightened that the gifted outdoors again might certainly look to chop ties with the 15-man sport.
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However, Stevenson on Tuesday put that notion to mattress when confirming that whereas he had certainly been approached by the Dolphins, he was nonetheless decided to see his 4-yr take care of New Zealand Rugby and the Chiefs which he signed again in 2019.
“Yeah, I had a call from Wayne,” he advised the Aotearoa Rugby Pod of what was a “nerve-racking” dialog with one of many biggest within the sport.
“This is arguably one of the best league coach on this technology. It was clearly a bit daunting, but it surely was cool, simply chew the fats, good to have a chat with the GOAT.
“I assume it’s an possibility after 2023. My skillset, I really feel, would go well with it, in a method, [seeing himself as a fullback or five-eighth, utilising both his running and kicking game] and clearly taking part in contact and tag again in class days, it’s much like that.
“It’s one of those things that quite a few boys want to give a crack, but they talk about it and never do. So never say never.”
However, within the meantime, Stevenson’s focus can be absolutely on how he can catapult himself onto the nationwide selectors’ radar throughout subsequent season’s Super Rugby Pacific competitors, forward of the World Cup later within the yr.
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And the 1.90m, 90kg winger/fullback, who has performed 67 video games for the Chiefs since his debut in 2016 with out ever actually cementing a spot (together with 5 on the appropriate wing this yr earlier than a knee harm), is being given each assurance that he may have that probability to shine.
While Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan’s response to the Dolphins chasing Stevenson was: “Good on them… good players are always going to have opportunities to go in a different direction, it’s just the nature of high performance sport… everyone outside of the Chiefs is a threat”, he has huge plans for his cost subsequent season.
“I’ve been pretty open to him that Shaun Stevenson at his best is a starter in our back three every day of the week,” he advised Stuff.
“At Super Rugby stage we stock bigger squads and there’s plenty of inside competitors for locations, after which while you think about COVID and accidents – and Shaun has had his honest few – that’s doubtlessly been a think about him not with the ability to get the quantity of sport time he would have appreciated within the final 12 months.
“We suppose that he’s been taking part in excellent rugby, he was nice by way of the Māori sequence, he carried that kind over for North Harbour, the place he was fairly influential in plenty of the success Harbour had.
“The challenge is for us, and him, to get that level of consistency, which he’s shown over the last three or four months, and transfer that into his Super Rugby.”
In an NPC marketing campaign the place his Harbour aspect dipped out within the quarterfinals, Stevenson scored 5 tries, was second within the competitors for metres (102 per sport), second for carries, third for offloads, sixth for defenders overwhelmed, eleventh for clear breaks and had an 88 per cent deal with success charge.
He was due to this fact a shocking omission from an All Blacks XV which was stated to have been picked on NPC kind, and which McMillan will coach however had no enter into the selecting of.
“Obviously I was pretty gutted,” Stevenson advised the Aotearoa Rugby Pod of not making the lower, having put his high quality kind right down to a “breaking the shackles off” and never being scared to make errors or of what folks suppose, which had allowed him to play with extra freedom.
“I haven’t had any suggestions or communication in any respect in to why I didn’t make it.
“I’ve just got to move on, put my head down, get into my work.”
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