Karpik hopes to continue journey of discovery with the Māori ABs

By James Perry

Chiefs flanker Mitchell Karpik, who made his Māori All Black debut last year on the tour of the Americas, is hoping to earn selection again for the two match series against Fiji next month.

The Auckland born and raised Karpik says his time in the Māori side last year has helped him learn a lot more about a side of his family he never really knew. 

"I sort of found out late notice," he says, "On my mum's side, her cousin always knew but we didn't think much of it until we really dug.  It's been really great learning about that side of me and especially on tour learning about the culture itself, it's pretty special."

He has found he is of Rongomaiwahine origin, and while he hasn't had an opportunity yet to travel back home, he says he enjoyed his time with the Māori side that played in the USA, Brazil and Chile, particularly spending time with team kaumātua, Luke Crawford.

With the return of Sam Cane last week from a broken neck, Karpik knows he has only a limited opportunity left to impress the Māori All Black selectors ahead of the home and away matches against Fiji. 

"I'd love to put that jersey on again and to play a quality opposition like Fiji, It'd be pretty special, so a few more games to prove myself and for the boys to put their foot forward, but it would be a special tour to be a part of."

Karpik is focused on doing what he can to help a Chiefs team desperate to keep their season alive. 

With three matches left, coach Colin Cooper says they are at a "must win" stage of their season, "particularly this one at home, in front of our fans".

They take on the Reds, who sit equal with the Chiefs on 23 points.

Despite their 23-9 loss to the Blues over the weekend, which saw them drop back to the bottom of the New Zealand conference, the Chiefs still have an outside chance of making the Super Rugby playoffs. They are six competition points behind the Highlanders who currently sit in eighth position overall.

"It's a bit of a lolly scramble at the moment," Karpik says. He believes the Chiefs are capable of doing the seemingly impossible, "if we add in all the best bits and pieces that we've done really well we're a championship winning side, so it's just a matter of doing the easy things right and not making silly mistakes, not giving away penalties".

He scored the Chiefs only try against the Blues on Friday night, pouncing on a wayward Rieko Ioane offload on the Blues line.  Karpik says he is getting a reputation for scoring "jammy" trys. 

"There wasn't much to it, not much skill anyway," he says.

Sporting a big black-eye and multiple stitches sustained on Friday night when attempting a tackle on Ma'a Nonu,which saw him leave the field for a 10-minute blood bin, he is expecting to be ready to take the field against the Reds this weekend.

Karpik and his Māori All Black team mates in the Chiefs will get a chance to get familiarise themselves with the Fijian conditions when they take on the Crusaders in Suva next weekend, before a bye round and a trip to Melbourne to take on the Rebels to finish off the season.