Spa filters to the black jersey: Telea's testing rugby journey

Fri, Mar 3

The second round of Super Rugby Pacific is starting soon where most eyes will be on one in-form winger for the Blues.

Mark Telea is a hard man to pin down – both on and off the field – but after last week’s comprehensive performance against the Highlanders, he’s been the talk of the competition.

But the 26-year-old, of Samoan and South African heritage, doesn't play for publicity.

“I'm a real private person, I'd like to keep it that way,” Telea told 1News.

"I have no social media, I like it like that!”

Telea did help fill in some blanks though.

Out of Glen Eden in West Auckland with a dozen siblings, he lost a brother four years ago after he was attacked in Queen Street.

“Always good growing up in a big family, you learn love early,” he said.

Telea’s rugby journey started at Massey High School in the First XV and North Harbour Academy, but no national junior rep teams came knocking.

After leaving school he worked making spa pool filters, playing club rugby in the meantime before making his NPC debut six years ago.

He wouldn’t have done it any other way.

Mark Telea.

“Here you are waking up 4 o’clock in the morning, getting in the car and driving to training, then you just go have a shower, straight back to work and you do that like repeat and it kind of just builds that mental resilience.”

He was awarded a full Super Rugby contract three years ago and hasn't stopped flying since, including for the All Blacks where he scored on Test debut last November.

Blues assistant coach Dan Halangahu said Telea’s whirlwind rise is no miracle though.

“He's probably one of the hardest guys working on his game,” Halangahu said.

“He didn't say a word the first few years but since then he's become a leader. He talks straight.”

The Blues will be hoping he continues to run straight too when they play the Brumbies this weekend.


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