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Tuiloma ready to seize his chances

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 10/11/2016

Marseille defender Bill Tuiloma is determined to make the most of his chances if he lines up for the All Whites in Saturday's World Cup qualifier against New Caledonia in Auckland.

Tuiloma is back in the team after a calf injury prevented him from making last month's successful US tour, and is keen to test himself after limited game time in the competitive French environment.

"It's difficult to try and crack the first team - once you're injured, they just bring another player in to do the job," he said.

"You have to stay fit, stay focused, and be the best at training.

"I'm still trying to work hard, still trying to improve on my weaknesses. I'm still learning football."

Nevertheless, 21-year-old Tuiloma is confident the All Whites can deliver what's needed to win the all-important home leg of the two-match qualifying series.

"The boys are focused, on point, so I think we're ready to do the job," he said.

He says Andrew Durante's presence in central defence will play an important part in making sure the back four work as a cohesive unit.

"Dura's a great player. He's got a lot of experience, he uses his voice, and I learn from that as well."

Durante is looking forward to taking on a senior role in a defence that will be without inspirational skipper Winston Reid or left back Tom Doyle, both out with hamstring injuries.

The Wellington Phoenix skipper, who last week clocked up 250 A-League games, is comfortable providing the constant direction needed to co-ordinate an effective defence.

"My role is to make sure the standards are high, and everybody knows and understands their roles," he said.

"It's a natural part of my game, I naturally like to be loud and vocal."

He also enjoys the high-pressing game the 116th-ranked All Whites employed in losing 2-1 to world No.17 Mexico last month, and in drawing 1-1 with the 24th-ranked US team.

The New Zealand plan on Saturday is to again employ an aggressive defence which will pressure New Caledonia further up the pitch.

"We're going to be on the front foot and really put them under pressure," Durante said.

"If we can win the ball higher up, it'll create goal-scoring opportunities for us.

"But it's definitely not going to be easy."

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