AUCKLAND – Talk, talk and talk some more has become the catchcry for Ngani Laumape as the standby All Black is thrust into the firing line for Saturday's return Test against Australia in Auckland.
The rookie was not included in the initial New Zealand Rugby Championship squad and told to work on his communication skills, as the All Blacks waltzed through their opening Bledisloe Cup Test 38-13 against Australia last week.
But injuries to Ryan Crotty and Sonny Bill Williams have seen the rapid elevation of the six-Test Laumape to become the starting inside centre alongside the two-Test Jack Goodhue with the backline ignited by experienced halves Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett.
At 1.71 metres and 103 kilograms (5ft 7in, 227 pounds) the diminutive Laumape is a battering ram on attack and a brickwall on defence, but his communication skills have been a shortcoming.
“He's aware of it and he's been working on it,” coach Steve Hansen said Thursday, adding a shortage of class inside centres, and a need to have the more experienced Anton Lienert-Brown come off the bench as an impact player, had forced his hand.