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New Zealand
Steven Luatua learns from neknominate controversy
ESPN Staff
January 28, 2014
New Zealand's Steven Luatua prepares for his Test bow, New Zealand v France, Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth, June 22, 2013
Steven Luatua played 11 Tests in 2013 © Getty Images
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Steven Luatua hopes to take his game to another level in 2014, the Blues and All Blacks back-rower steeled by his recent neknominate controversy.

Luatua was subject of negative headlines and media criticism when footage of his involvement in a drinking game was published on social media, and the rising star of New Zealand rugby described the fallout as "a challenging time for myself". But "definitely lessons were learned from that time", and he hopes to move on having been heartened by the support he received.

"I'm quite fortunate to be in a strong environment," Luatua told the APNZ. "I got a lot of support from the Blues, from the coaches and also the Blues fans. They were behind me so I'm thankful to them."

Luatua played 11 Tests in 2013 after making his debut against France, including two Bledisloe Cup starts against the Wallabies, and he hopes his partnership with Jerome Kaino in the Blues back-row will spark him to higher levels of form, especially given the returning All Blacks hero has stated publicly his desire to play Test football this season..

"Jerome has been the form No.6 [before leaving for Japan] ... he was definitely the guy I looked up to growing up," Luatua said. "To be able to play alongside him, hopefully, it's pretty exciting. He defines what a forward is. He gets the team going forward on defence by smashing guys, and he gets the team going forward on attack."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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