An athletically gifted player, Vaea Fifita has strode and hurdled his way into national prominence over the last few seasons.
Born in Tonga, the raw-boned Fifita moved to New Zealand to attend Auckland’s Tamaki College after visiting with the Tongan Schools side in 2010. He moved to Wellington and made his provincial debut there in 2013, played for the National Sevens-winning Wellington Sevens team in 2014 and then debuted for the Hurricanes in 2015.
Fifita was first called into the All Blacks as a replacement on the European Tour in 2016, but didn’t play, and eventually made his debut against Samoa in 2017.
While he has also played lock, Fifita is a skilful loose forward, who started playing rugby in the backs. While his height and agility make him a useful lineout option, he is a potent attacking weapon, with ball in hand.
His hurdling of an opposition player during a provincial match in 2016 stunned rugby fans, with TV footage of the feat going viral, while his 60-metre try against Argentina last year had commentators once again reaching for the superlatives.