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Joe Tapine once fried chips at Wellington Stadium; now he returns as a Test player.

This Saturday Joseph Tapine returns to work at Wellington's Westpac Stadium a decade on from his first shift there, but the uniform and role description will be a little different this time around.

Born and raised in Wellington, Tapine lived in the city until he was scouted by the Newcastle Knights while in high school, and this week returns for New Zealand's Rugby League World Cup quarter-final against Fiji.

"I actually used to work at [Westpac Stadium], it was my first job," Tapine said.

"I used to cook the fries up the back of the stadium… I was 13 or 14, my sister squeezed me into a job… I didn't really like the job to be honest.

"We used to go and watch rugby union games there, the Hurricanes and Lions… I never got to actually play on the stadium, so it will be my first time this week.

"I'm happy to be home, flying in I could see my old house, my old college, it's a good feeling being back home."

Twenty-three-year-old Tapine has been a standout so far at the World Cup, averaging 96 metres and over 24 tackles per game while playing all but 20 minutes of New Zealand's three pool games.

Meanwhile Kiwis forward Kenny Bromwich said it was vital his side made a statement against Fiji following last week's upset 28-22 loss to Tonga, but wasn't concerned about now being on what is perceived as the tougher side of the draw, with unbeaten Fiji and Australia among the teams. 

"I think it's very important [we bounce back and make a statement]… the challenge that we are facing now is that we have to stick together and play well," Bromwich said.

"Fiji are a tough side and they have also got skill, we have got to adjust a little bit. They have got the flick pass, a good offload.

"The challenge is a bit harder, but it's the World Cup, you don't expect it to be easy.

"Either way it is going to be a hard challenge to win the final, so if you are going this harder way it's a bit better I think."

Kiwis coach David Kidwell has dropped veteran Thomas Leuluai for the quarter-final, with Te Maire Martin coming in to play five-eighth, Danny Levi to start at hooker and Kodi Nikorima on the bench.


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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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