NZ Rugby World - - Rugby Championship -

If it hadn't been for the se­lec­tion of Isaia Toeava in the 2005 All Blacks Grand Slam tour party, Ja­son Ea­ton would have ranked as the most as­ton­ish­ing se­lec­tion.

Like Toeava, he was vir­tu­ally un­known when he was picked by the All Blacks. He was a 23-yearold 2.04m lock, who the coaches reck­oned had the size and ath­leti­cism to be­come a world class per­former.

They had made that as­sess­ment though on the back of Ea­ton play­ing a hand­ful of pro­vin­cial games – a few more than Toeava, but not many.

Ea­ton had played for Manawatu in 2002 and 2003 be­fore trans­fer­ring to Taranaki in 2004. He was win­ning a bit of game time, but not enough to be win­ning ac­co­lades or pub­lic recog­ni­tion.

He was big, but not nec­es­sar­ily that ef­fec­tive. But when he played for Taranaki against the British & Ir­ish Lions in 2005, the All Blacks coached no­ticed him, saw some­thing and started ask­ing more ques­tions about him.

They tracked him through Au­gust and Septem­ber and then shocked ev­ery­one when they handed him a test de­but against Ire­land in Novem­ber.

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