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Tevita Li feeling more at home with Highlanders

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Initially he debuted for the Blues in 2014, going on to play 30 games for them in a three-year stint before transferring south last year.

As a result the North Harbour Mitre 10 Cup player, and two-time New Zealand Under-20s selection, is looking to play his 50th Super Rugby game and possibly, later in the year, his 100th first-class game. That's what's possible in the modern era.

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A player who has always been feared for his startling pace backed by bone crunching qualities with the ball in hand that can make him a hard player to put to ground, Li will continue to be a threat on the end of a talented Highlanders backline in 2018.

Starting his second season with the Highlanders he said he was feeling more excited about being with the team. He been a little nervous last year not knowing what to expect but he enjoyed the culture, the coaching group and the brand of rugby the side played.

Coaching changes hadn't made any difference to the outlook the team had towards wanting to succeed.

"I just want to be consistent this year and to go out there and play good footy and focus on my individual role but making sure that I'm part of the team and doing everything for the team to get that good performance we're working for.
Being back with North Harbour for Mitre 10 Cup had been good with the group wanting to build on their effort in making the Premiership at the end of 2016. He had gained some confidence from their success and wanted to take that into Super Rugby.

With the All Blacks away during the early part of their fitness work, it had been good to have Ben Smith involved. He had led the way through fitness and contract drills and it had been a confidence boost to see the way he was approaching his tasks.

"We didn't expect him to come in pre-Christmas but for him to come in and show us all up was pretty good," he said.

"Off the field he loves just having a yarn and giving us work-ons if we need work-ons and talking with us."

Li said he was going into the season hoping to develop his offload game this year as there were a lot of players in the side who liked to be on the end of offloads.