Kiwis and Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves says club combinations are helping New Zealand's World Cup chances.
Kiwi enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves looks to be relishing a more senior role in the New Zealand Test set-up and says he is full of pride for the members of the squad who have fought their way into – or back into – the black jumper.
Waerea-Hargreaves' Roosters clubmates Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Sam Moa, a former Tongan international, made their New Zealand debuts in the side's tournament opener against Samoa, while fellow Roosters Frank-Paul Nuuausala and Sonny Bill Williams have fought their way back into the side after absences.
"The young fella Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, I'm his mentor, I do have a bit of expectation on him because I do like to try and teach him a bit of skills on how to score tries," Waerea-Hargreaves joked.
Of Tuivasa-Sheck and Moa's debuts, Waerea-Hargreaves said: "it was something pretty special as a teammate and as a brother to be playing alongside those guys all year then to be playing alongside them again in the Samoa game.
"And to see Frank-Paul also playing so well in his last couple of performances is a credit to himself and how hard he's had to work to get back into that jumper. For Sonny also, he's a supreme athlete, he is what he is, and he keeps turning up and delivering success so that's another massive credit to himself."
Of his own role in the Kiwis line-up, Waerea-Hargreaves said he'd like to say he was taking on more of a leadership role in the pack.
"I like to get out there and lead, especially if you're in the starting jumper," he said.
"For myself I'm out there to do my role and I'm just trying to do my best for the team."
He's been doing that and more in the side's two games so far, racking up just over 300 metres in the two games, with more than 40 tackles and four offloads, before being rested for the third.
With much of the Kiwis squad having played together previously, and featuring strong club combinations from the Roosters (who provide five of the squad) and the Warriors (six) as well as the Bulldogs (four), the squad has formed a special connection according to Waerea-Hargreaves.
"I think it's a comfort thing also, having so many of your own teammates in there. We've all been in camp together before and it's just gelled straight away. I think that's where we get that special connection from and it definitely helps I believe."
Looking ahead to this Friday night's quarter final against Scotland (Saturday morning Australia/NZ time), Waerea-Hargreaves said the Kiwis were just looking for a slid preparation
"We have to prepare well. Start by preparing early during the week, and just working on our combinations and trying to execute really well during the game and just completing," he said.
"We're expecting a pretty physical encounter, they're very passionate. We're going to expect the unexpected. They're definitely going to be playing some flairy footy which we're going to be looking forward to playing."
And what else to expect from the Bravehearts on the night?
"Definitely expecting a lot of kilts, tartans and possibly bagpipes," he deadpanned.
"Definitely at half time a bit of haggis, served by Mel Gibson, and probably Mel Gibson charging onto the field."
We're not sure if Mel Gibson is planning to attend but it should be a spectacle either way.