What if Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams had picked rugby? Rise of Tahs recruit offers answer

What if Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams had picked rugby? Rise of Tahs recruit offers answer


Over a Speight’s or three, New Zealanders have pondered how their highest-paid athlete – NBA star Steven Adams – would have fared if the 211-centimetre giant played the national religion instead of basketball, pocketing lineout wins instead of blocks and rebounds.

With Adams signing a $US25.2 million ($37 million) two-year deal extension at the Memphis Grizzlies last season, the debate will never be settled.

But for something approximating an answer, the best place to look may be an under-the-radar talent wearing the sky blue of NSW against Queensland in Townsville on Saturday. And the verdict? Pretty bloody good.

Taleni Seu, a highly impressive recruit in his first season with the Waratahs, was a talented athlete in Auckland who juggled representative rugby and basketball, and even used to play against Adams, who is the same age.

At 202 centimetres, Seu was a centre or power forward. Even in his early 20s, after he’d played for the Auckland under-20s rugby side, Seu was still considering a hoops career.

Seu pursued rugby, though, and after an injury-plagued few years with the Chiefs and some time in Japan, he came to Sydney this year for another shot at Super Rugby – and basketball’s loss has been the Waratahs’ gain.

Taleni Seu wins a lineout for the Waratahs.

Taleni Seu wins a lineout for the Waratahs.Credit: Getty

Bucking the decades-old trend of the Tahs signing ordinary middle-rowers from overseas, Seu has been outstanding for NSW, with an ability to bounce effectively between the loose forwards and the second row.

Seu is not only an industrious tight forward, he has NSW’s second-most carry metres and defenders beaten stats, the second-most lineout wins and has missed only seven tackles this year. The 29-year-old has also proven to be the best offloader in the NSW pack, and has quietly laid on several tries with great touch after contact.

“I am grateful for basketball because it gave me a lot of skills that I could take into rugby,” Seu said.

Taleni Seu playing basketball in Auckland.

Taleni Seu playing basketball in Auckland.

“Just being comfortable with the ball in my hands. With basketball, you have high hand co-ordination, and with timing with the ball when you are jumping. Just little things like that helped me and I was able to transfer that into rugby.”

Seu, who has Niuean and Samoan heritage, grew up in the Auckland suburb of Mangere. He played basketball on a Friday night and first XV rugby on Saturdays. His size and skill meant he excelled in both, and he was drafted into the Auckland rugby academy, where he came through with All Blacks Akira and Rieko Ioane, and Patrick Tuipulotu.

He continued playing club and provincial basketball, too, and banged bodies with Adams at a national tournament in Wellington.

“He was too big and no one stood a chanc

…. to be continued
Read full article at the Original Source
Copyright for syndicated content belongs to the linked Source : Brisbane Times – https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/sport/rugby-union/what-if-kiwi-nba-star-steven-adams-had-picked-rugby-rise-of-tahs-recruit-offers-answer-20230503-p5d5bx.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_feed