With the Auckland Blues recording their first win over the Chiefs since 2011, Māori All Black and Blues player Marcel Renata is hoping to add a few more Super Rugby caps before the season is done.
Renata made his Māori All Blacks debut in 2015, picked straight from Auckland club rugby. Later that year, he got his Auckland provincial rugby call-up but had to wait until 2018 for his Super Rugby debut for the Hurricanes.
Renata, in his first season with the Blues, says he's been fortunate to have been in the Māori All Blacks side for so long. "To me that's my All Blacks, you know representing my people, so it's a pretty unreal experience. Just being a tin-arse, I guess, and year after year I've been able to go on tour," he says.
The Ngāti Whanaunga and Ngāi Takoto prop is not exaggerating when he describes his career so far. He says he hadn't even played any domestic competition rugby for Auckland before being first selected for the Māori All Blacks. "I was quite lucky getting a few Māori All Black caps with injuries and not many Māori props running around," he says,
Since then, he has earned 10 caps for the Māori All Blacks, including the historic tour to Brazil and Chile in 2018.
He is now keen to add to his four Super Rugby caps. He made his debut with the Hurricanes last year before returning north to join the Blues for 2019.
While he has only added two caps to the couple he earned in Wellington, he is benefitting from regular training sessions with All Black props like Karl Tu'inukuafe and Ofa Tu'ungafasi. "It's pretty awesome scrumming against those boys, so when you're going well against the ABs you know you're in a pretty good space. But yeah, it's hardly you go well against them, which is good. It's only good for growth anyway."
Since his debut for the Māori All Blacks, Renata has been a regular in the Auckland Mitre 10 Cup team, earning 32 caps. He was a part of the Auckland side that won their first National Provincial title for a decade last year, something the former King's College student ranks as a career highlight. "Being involved with other Auckland teams in the past, it's felt really good just to get back on top with provincial rugby again. So yeah, it's something I'll remember for the rest of my life."
Renata is hoping he can again find himself in Clayton McMillan's Māori squad for the home and away series against Fiji in July. "Yeah, 100% keen as to get around the boys. I made some special friends and connections in that team," he says, "I hope there's something towards the end of the year after the World Cup as well, fingers crossed."
In the meantime, Renata will be hoping he adds a few more Super Rugby caps to his name this year as the Blues keep their pursuit of a first playoff spot in 8 years alive.