17 Dec 2018

More gifts coming for new All Blacks prop

12:47 pm on 17 December 2018

Karl Tu'inukuafe finally has a chance to sit back and reflect on his meteoric rise in 2018.

The All Blacks loosehead prop is back at home in Auckland preparing for the arrival of twins, following a breakout season in which he's gone from an uncontracted Super Rugby player to playing 13 tests.

Karl Tu/inukuafe at All Blacks training.

Photo: Photosport

Tu'inukuafe told Nine to Noon it's been a crazy year.

"I still need to pinch myself on the daily," he said.

"Just wondering how lucky I am, being where I am and being able to support my family.

"Just really, really grateful and happy."

Tu'inukuafe, 25, became a regular for the Chiefs in Super Rugby this year, after a number of injuries to the franchise's front-line props.

He was then stunned to get a call from All Blacks manager Darren Shand in May, to join the national squad for the June test series against France, after Crusaders prop Tim Perry injured a hamstring.

"It's really quite vivid in my memory, because it was the day I found out my wife was pregnant.

"We found out she was pregnant and then about 30 minutes later I called back a missed call and found out it was Darren Shand the manager of the All Blacks.

"It was a real emotional, special experience."

Karl Tu'inukuafe poses for a selfie with All Blacks fans.

Photo: Photosport Ltd 2018

Karl Tu'inukuafe came off the bench in all three tests against France before making his starting debut against Argentina in Nelson.

He started the All Blacks' following three tests and then again on the end-of-year tour against England and Ireland.

His elevation has meant a lot to his family.

"My dad always calls me and tells me how happy my family is.

"I carry my dad's family name so a lot of the family overseas and around here in Auckland...have all contacted my dad letting him know how proud they are."

Tu'inukuafe hopes his rise serves as a lesson for the next generation of New Zealand rugby players, showing patience and perseverence pays off.

"I didn't play Super Rugby until I was 25 and all of these kids are worried about contracts and all this...you know there's plenty of time."

The powerful prop is relishing some time off before joining the Blues for the 2019 season.

"It's always good to have a rest from anything you're doing a lot of.

"It's been a long, almost two years straight of playing non-stop and I'm just happy to wind down with my family and get some good time to recharge."

And Karl Tu'inukuafe may have another reason to savour 2018 before the year is out, with his wife expecting twins.

"They were meant to be here mid-Jan, but they're looking like they're coming next week.

"They're quite big so they're running out of space. They're most likely coming next week instead of next month."