Levi's toughness a perfect fit for Kiwis
A taxing start to his career hasn't made life easy for Danny Levi at club level, but according to his Kiwis teammates it's shaped an attitude perfect for the Test arena.
Across his first three years in the NRL Telstra Premiership, Levi has tasted victory just six times in 49 games. That's a winning record of 12.24 per cent through a period where his Newcastle Knights have collected three straight wooden spoons.
But on the eve of his international debut for New Zealand against Samoa this Saturday in Auckland, Kiwis forward Elijah Taylor said the hard-working hooker's approach to the game would ensure he fits right in.
"The way he has played with the Knights over the last three years, defending in the middle and playing through it when you're not winning, but turning up every week and playing well every week, that shows a lot of character," Taylor told NRL.com.
"He has been getting pumped with Newcastle, but he still turns up and gives his usual performance, it says a lot about him and it builds resilience.
"His attitude is noticeable. Those lessons he picked up at the Knights, that will be driving him in this tournament and in future years to come. As a young guy you tend to soak up all those things.
"I know he has got a lot of potential. He trains hard, he works hard in the gym. I am really, really looking forward to having the opportunity to play alongside him at some stage."
Levi will come off the interchange and share dummy-half duties with Thomas Leuluai in the Kiwis' tournament opener at Mount Smart Stadium, after starting 15 of his 24 games for the Knights this year.
The World Cup campaign is Levi's chance to confirm himself as the long-term New Zealand No.9, with veteran rake Issac Luke overlooked for the squad altogether and 32-year-old Leuluai likely to be playing his last tournament for the Kiwis.
Leuluai believed Levi's call-up had been a long time coming, despite still being just 21 years of age.
"Danny has been playing some good football for a while now, I remember when I was back at the Warriors he was always knocking at the door then, he's a young fella brought up with the right values and he fits into the group really well," Leuluai said.
"He has done a great job coming into camp, all our young guys have, he's a great player and he deserves his spot in the team."
Levi will have plenty of support come kick-off on Saturday, with several groups of family and friends expected to make the trip up from his hometown of Wellington for the match against Samoa.