Friday night’s debut for the Hurricanes has felt a long time coming for Peter Umaga-Jensen.
Selected in the squad in 2017, the 20-year-old has had to bide his time to make his first appearance for the club after a series of injuries has curtailed his chance to pull on the Hurricanes jersey.
“It’s been a long-term goal,” the 20-year-old said. “Having been in the squad for two years now I’m just really looking forward to going out there and showing the coaches what I can do.”
Having grown up in Wainuiomata alongside twin brother Thomas, a member of the Highlanders squad, Umaga-Jensen came through Scots College before he went on to represent New Zealand at Under-20 level.
He was first selected in the Hurricanes squad for 2017 off the back of an impressive season for the Wellington Lions in the Mitre 10 Cup but shoulder surgery ultimately put paid to higher ambitions.
Nevertheless, the injuries he has suffered have taught the nephew of former Hurricanes great Tana Umaga a thing or two about what it means to be a professional player.
“I’ve learnt a lot from the time I’ve been involved here, from the coaches to the players, they have all helped me develop as a player and as a person as well,” he said.
“It will be nice to showcase what they’ve taught me.”
As for meeting the Reds at Westpac Stadium, Umaga-Jensen said he was trying not to think about it too much as he tried to focus on his role in the team.
He will, however, be fortunate enough to turn to two of the Hurricanes best for advice either side of him out on the field in the form of Beauden Barrett and Matt Proctor.
“It’s so good to have those senior players there to help and support me throughout the game. I can’t wait.”