Tevita Li has been one of many young sensations to impress in a Blues jersey this season, but he lays claim to being the youngest.
In just his first year out of school, Li has shown in 2014 he has what it takes to play at the top level.
It was a big step up for the Massey High School graduate, who came straight into Blues pre-season training after his Year 13 exams.
“It was the hardest three weeks of my life!” Li quipped.
“Looking back I am so happy I went through that pain and the hard work but I couldn’t believe how full on it was.”
That wasn’t the only shock to Li’s system, as he had to come to terms with being team mates with some of his rugby idols.
“When I first came into the team I didn’t really know what to do, I just tried to stick around some of the other young guys but everyone made me feel so welcome and the older players were really good to talk to.”
As a member of the Wider Training Group, Li said his goals for 2014 were to learn as much as possible, but he was elevated to the match-day 23 in Round One.
“When they named that first team, my mindset was that I wasn’t going to be in it. I thought it would be Club Rugby for me that weekend so when I got named I was so shocked, I didn’t know what to say.”
Li’s form in Super Rugby helped secure his position in the New Zealand Under 20 team for the upcoming Junior World Championships held here in Auckland.
“That was a big goal for me this year – to make that team. I’ve watched a lot of players come through the Under 20 team and go on to All Blacks so it’s something I really aimed for.
“I need to make sure when I go into camp I don’t drop my standards. I know I have to perform for the team, because we want to get that trophy back!”
After not appearing for the Blues since their round 8 loss to the Brumbies in Canberra, Li is back on the left wing tomorrow night taking on the Sharks in what shapes as a season-defining game.