Super Rugby Pacific: Blues sensation Mark Telea feels target on back, after All Blacks tour call-up

Blues sensation Mark Telea isn't wasting any time enjoying his new place in the All Blacks pecking order.

After a breakout 2022 Super Rugby Pacific campaign, the powerhouse winger was summoned into the national team for their end-of-year northern tour, after Leicester Fainga'anuku withdrew for family reasons.

When incumbent Will Jordan stayed home with an inner ear condition, Telea inheritted a test debut against Scotland, scoring two tries and earning another start against England for the tour climax.

With his name now elevated near the top of the All Blacks depth chart, he simply consolidated his status with a dominant display in the Blues season-opening defeat of the Highlanders, accumulating pinball-like numbers to back his credentials. 

Two tries, two try assists, 202 running metres, four clean breaks and 13 defenders beaten were all the best achieved by NZ players, although Hurricanes hooker Asafo Aumua also had two assists.

Telea, 26, is keenly aware those stats must become the norm, not the exception, if he is to maintain his claims on a World Cup spot later this year.

"It builds confidence, knowing you're getting selected for higher honours," he said. "You just want to play your best.

"At the same time, you know there are a lot of eyes on you, so you need to perform every week.

"[Selection] was massive, mostly not for myself, but for my family, the club and coaches who have put a lot of effort into me. For myself as well, finally getting a massive achievement like that.

"Once you get a chance like that, you take it with two hands and don't look back."

Mark Telea celebrates a try against Scotland
Mark Telea celebrates a try against Scotland. Photo credit: Getty

No doubt, his cause is aided by an all-international Blues backline determined to do better than last year, when they went largely unscathed through the Super Rugby regular season, beating the champion Crusaders at Christchurch for the first time in 18 years, before falling to their archrivals in the final. 

A 40-point win over the Highlanders is a nice way to start their run at redemption, but this week, they face ACT Brumbies - consistently the best Australian team and an outfit that finished within a point in a semi-final classic eight months ago.  

Wisely, Telea is taking a masured 'one game at a time' approach to All Blacks selection.

"I don't really think about it," he said. "That will take care of itself.

"I just think about what's in front of me, week to week, day by day, and keep focusing like that."

Join Newshub at 4pm Sunday for live updates of the Blues v Brumbies Super Rugby Pacific clash