Rugby: Ruben Love sets sights on performing for Hurricanes despite whispers of All Blacks prospects

At just 22, Hurricanes star Ruben Love is a rugby player on the rise.  

So much so, that in the eyes of some he could've snuck into the All Blacks World Cup squad as outside back cover.  

He'll start 2024 with questions around his best position - is he a fullback or could he be a genuine option at first-five?  

Love is sticking to a simple philosophy where the best ability is availability. 

Ruben Love scores for Wellington.
Ruben Love scores for Wellington. Photo credit: Photosport

Love feels right at home on the rugby field, and rugby loves him back.

Since debuting for Wellington in 2020, he has become one of New Zealand's most exciting prospects, and quickly earned caps for the Hurricanes, Māori All Blacks and the All Blacks XV.

But it hasn't been all smooth sailing. A groin tear saw him miss the 2023 Super Rugby season, and slammed the door on his World Cup dreams.  

"It was so frustrating," he told Newshub. "Watching for the last two years, not being able to contribute on the field, and I felt like I had a lot to prove."   

Love's moved between No.10 and fullback throughout his short professional career.  

Like fellow utility back Damian McKenzie, he says his ability to thrive in the two positions has been both a blessing and a curse.  

"You don't want to get caught in that grey area, where you can't specialise in any," he confessed. "I know I can do both positions as well as anyone.  

"But being able when the time comes to make a decision, I want to be in a good space."  

Richie Mo'unga's departure to Japan has created a gap in the All Blacks at No.10.  

But Love insists he's got more pressing business at Super Rugby level.  

"Right now, my main priority is being available for selection," he added. "If you look at my track record, the last two years hasn't been great for the Hurricanes. 

"For other teams, it's been good. For the Canes it's been poor, so I just want to get on the field."  

Wherever he ends up, Love isn't lacking the motivation to perform.   

"I sat at every game last year, handing out flags to kids asking 'why aren't you playing? Where's Ruben Love?'  

"I don't take that lightly. I'm not going to forget that."  

Now, as Super Rugby Pacific creeps closer, Love is out to remind both fans and opposing defences just how lethal he can be.