Auckland's resurgence helping Ruru push for Māori tour

By James Perry

Another chance with the Māori All Blacks is on the horizon, but helping Auckland succeed again is where Jonathan Ruru's focus lies.  

Ruru has helped Auckland return to the semi-finals of the Mitre 10 Cup.  With the playoffs only a week away, he is hoping to be selected again for the Māori All Blacks.

The Napier Boys' High product was part of the Māori All Black tour to Canada and France last year. 

Ruru says,"Last year was an experience and a half, and one I was real grateful for."  However, the former Hawke's Bay and Otago halfback says his focus is on helping Auckland perform again "and that can only hopefully help my chances."

Auckland have not played finals rugby since Mitre 10 secured naming rights of the national provincial competition at the end of the 2015 season.

With only one loss this year, they are set to play finals footy again.

The Ngāti Kahungunu and Rongomaiwahine descendant says it is fair reward for the effort the team has put in during his first year with the province. 

"I can't really reflect on what it's been like, but what I can say is that the boys are putting in the work and have got a good culture and that seems to be going alright at the moment."

As for his own form this year, Ruru says the coaching team, which includes former All Blacks Alama Ieremia and Filo Tiatia, have allowed him to play the style of game that he likes.

"I like to have a run and that sort of thing every now and then.  And if that's how we play at times then that suits me." 

Ruru is one of a number of top Māori halfbacks in New Zealand at the moment, with Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi holding the three spots in the All Blacks. 

Ruru faces competition from former All Black Brad Weber, as well as fellow Māori All Black Bryn Hall and Counties-Manukau's Te Aihe Toma to earn selection on the Māori All Blacks tour of the USA and South America.

They will play the USA Eagles in the final game of a triple header in Chicago, also featuring the Black Ferns, before playing Brazil and Chile.

Tomorrow Auckland takes on Southland in Invercargill, a win will see the Aucklanders return to the top of the table.

Ruru has been named at halfback, earning another chance to impress the Māori selectors.