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Will Jordan ready for new challenge with Tasman Makos

Will Jordan heads for a try during New Zealand's semifinal win over France at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship.
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Will Jordan heads for a try during New Zealand's semifinal win over France at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship.

Will Jordan's whirlwind rugby career is about to take a significant step up in intensity.

So far, the talented young fullback has been starring at age-group level, having just returned from New Zealand's record-breaking Junior Under-20 World Cup campaign in Georgia where he started in all five games.

Playing alongside Tasman winger Tima Faingaanuku, Jordan ended the tournament with five tries, including three in New Zealand's 69-3 pool win over Ireland, ahead of a staggering 64-17 win over England in the final.

He was still playing for the Christchurch Boys High School First XV just two seasons ago when he scored 19 tries in 11 games to finish the UC Championship as the competition's leading try-scorer. He played for the Canterbury under-19s last year and his form was compelling enough to win selection in the New Zealand Under-20 World Cup squad.

But now he's preparing to mix it with the big boys as part of the Tasman Makos' 2017 Mitre 10 Cup squad.

He was approached by Tasman after last year's national under-19 tournament in Taupo and signed a two-year deal in October. He heads to Nelson on July 17 with the heady prospect of making his national provincial premiership debut.

It's likely to come sooner rather than later, although the Tasman selectors have some intriguing options to consider at fullback.

David Havili has been carving up in the Crusaders' No 15 jersey in this year's Super Rugby competition although his renowned utility value, notably his ability to slot seamlessly into the midfield, should help ease the selection conundrum.

Still, Jordan's yet to prove himself at the higher level.

"It's going to be a big step up from under-19s and even under-20s ... so yeah, I'm expecting it to be pretty tough and obviously there are a lot of experienced players around the Mitre 10 scene," Jordan said.

"Davey's had some pretty special form for the Crusaders at fullback in Super Rugby, but he can play second five as well so I guess we'll just see what happens. I'll do my best and hopefully look to get some minutes at fullback or maybe on the wing.

"But I've got to earn my spot, so it's definitely up to me to force some game time through my good play really."

He's been happy enough with his current form and Georgia's weather played ball, enabling him to showcase his ample attacking skills.

"I think as a fullback and outside back, I was lucky over in Georgia that the weather was pretty hot and conducive to running footy, so we got plenty of ball out wide and had some pretty special players inside us who were able to set up a few tries for myself and our outside backs."

New Zealand's winning margin against England still came as a shock.

"We headed into that final thinking it was going to be a pretty tight affair ... we went in there thinking it was going to be a big scrap to get the win and luckily we just came out firing in that first 40 minutes. Maybe [England] were a bit slow to start and we were lucky enough to build up a big margin by halftime then hold on for the win."

However, he almost didn't make the final after tweaking a hamstring in the 39-26 semifinal win over France.

"I was actually in doubt to play in the final but luckily the day before the game we made the call to give it a go and I managed to get through the full 80 [minutes]. So I'm just managing [the hamstring] and it's basically come right now."

He's excited about joining a Tasman team renowned for its attacking style of play. 

"I think Tasman's an up and coming side in the Mitre 10 Cup and in the last couple of years they've played some pretty exciting footy and had some great results as well."

As a member of the Crusaders Academy, there will be plenty of familiar faces to help ease him into the Tasman environment. Besides Faingaanuku and Crusaders players Havili, and Mitchell Hunt, this year's Tasman lineup also includes former Christchurch BHS team-mates Alex Nankivell and Blair Prinsep. 

For now though, it's about setting his sights on a whole new challenge.

"It's been a pretty whirlwind 12 months and I'm looking forward to getting up to Tasman and hopefully pushing towards my first Mitre 10 game, that'll be a big goal definitely."