It’s no secret to ardent and regular viewers of rugby in the capital Teariki Ben-Nicholas is a damaging and consistent loose forward.
In 76 appearances for Old Boys University he has scored 40 tries and won the Jubilee Cup three times while in 2014 he was a member of the Wellington Under-19 team who won the inaugural National Under 19 title in Taupo.
Ben-Nicholas has been in the Lions for three seasons and hasn’t missed a game in 2019. His consistency mirrors that of the team who have won six in a row and last Saturday secured a semi-final berth with a 57-36 crushing of Northland.
This Friday North Harbour awaits in Albany and one of Ben’s opposites Murphy Taramai is a familiar and formidable opponent.
The former Upper Hutt Rams loose forward has recently secured a Hurricanes contract. Does Ben-Nicholas believe he has a point to prove?
“I’ve played against Murphy a few times at both club and Mitre 10 level. He’s a great competitor, very consistent, he deserves his Hurricanes contract. I don’t think I’ve got a point to prove, but I know we have to contain him and some of their big forwards who like to have a crack.” Ben-Nicholas responded.
North Harbour have lacked consistency this season, winning just three of eight games, but were convincing victors against Manawatu in the previous round and presently occupy the fourth and last semi-final place in the Premiership standings.
An upset of the Lions will keep defending champions Auckland fifth heading into the final round of the regular season.
“North Harbour will be desperate and we don’t want to lose our momentum,” Ben-Nicholas observed.
“Growing up in Auckland I’ve played with and against a lot of the Harbour boys. It’s going to be a tough challenge.”
Ben-Nicholas followed the fortunes of his former First XV, King’s College, Auckland closely this season. King’s won the Auckland title and were runners up to Hastings Boys’ High School in the National Top Four.
King’s coach is former Waikato and South African Sevens halfback Kevin Putt who left an indelible mark on Ben-Nicholas.
"The First XV environment at King's was really competitive, well resourced and semi-professional. It helped me when I joined the Academy in Wellington.
“All three coaches complemented each other, but Kevin was the fiery one. He waved his hands around and revved us up when we needed it. He brought a lot of experience and smarts,” Ben-Nicholas reflected.
Ben-Nicholas has represented the New Zealand Under 20’s and Universities. He has nearly completed a Bachelor of Commerce at Victoria University.
In 2016 he was apart of the Tasman team that reached the Premiership final. The Mako are unblemished in 2019. Why are Tasman so strong and how does their culture contrast with Wellington.
“They’ve got a good bunch of boys down there. They support the local talent who have played together for a long time and recruit smartly. I don’t think the cultures are all that different, but success breeds confidence,” Ben-Nicholas concluded.