The other two newcomers in the squad are Highlanders flanker Shannon Frizell and Chiefs halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi.
Taufua featured for the Bulls in the annual Cook Islands International Sevens Tournament a couple of years ago.
The Crusaders flanker was one of the more dynamic players to feature in the local international Sevens, said Cook Islands Rugby Union development manager Ben Koteka.
“The ruggedness and the toughness he showed during the international Sevens with the Tauae Bulls was a sign that he was destined for bigger things in the future,” Koteka said.
“We congratulate him on his achievement. He is a dynamic player and we are not surprised to see him in the All Blacks squad. It took him a little while but he managed to eventually get there.”
The 26-year-old Taufua received the traditional phonecall advising him of his All Blacks call-up in the wake of the Crusaders’ hard-fought 32-24 victory over the Blues at Eden Park on Friday night.
“Our manager Shane Fletcher said (Gilbert) Enoka is on the phone,” said Taufua at the squad announcement in Auckland over the weekend. “My first reaction was, ‘Who’s that?’ I’ve never met the guy. We started chatting and he let me know I’d made the team.
“It was pretty special. I was a bit speechless and overwhelmed, and at the same time excited.”
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen tagged Taufua and fellow newcomer Frizell as “assertive players – they’ve got plenty of energy and plenty of intention with that energy, and they’ve got the skillset we like. Are they the finished product? We don’t know.”
National selector Grant Fox said Taufua had proved time and again “he’s big enough and heavy enough and powerful enough”. The only shortcomings, as it were, came around his effectiveness in the lineout.
“It changes the balance little bit, but we can work around that. No one is perfect and at times we’ve got to remind ourselves we’re selecting them because they do a number of other things very well, and we can work on the things they don’t,” Fox told Stuff.
Meanwhile, Koteka said that news about players who have featured in the Cook Islands International Sevens making it big in the game spoke volumes about the calibre of the tournament.
Former All Blacks, the late Jonah Lomu and Seta Tamanivalu, and All Blacks Sevens reps Akira Ioane and Joe Ravouvou are some of the notable players who played in the Sevens in Heaven tournament before getting into the national teams.
“This shows the class of the tournament and the pool of talent we have here every year in the Cook Islands International Sevens,” Koteka added.
- Rashneel Kumar/Stuff
All Blacks squad: Backs: Jordie Barrett, Ben Smith (vc), Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Rieko Ioane, Jack Goodhue, Sonny Bill Williams, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Ryan Crotty, Richie Mo’unga, Damian McKenzie, Beauden Barrett, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith. Forwards: Luke Whitelock, Liam Squire, Shannon Frizell, Ardie Savea, Jordan Taufua, Sam Cane (vc), Vaea Fifita, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock (c), Owen Franks, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Jeff To’omaga-Allen, Tim Perry, Joe Moody, Nathan Harris, Codie Taylor.