2022 providing new challenges for veteran Leali'ifano

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Covid-19 continues to affect the competition, and the newcomers have been hit hardest.


Initially, that was as Omicron surged through their team. But, lately, it has been as games are cancelled as others suffer. They have their fingers crossed they won't be denied another game on Friday.


But there has been a least one benefit for a player who has only been able to watch New Zealand games from a distance.


Leali'ifano said being in New Zealand for the season had allowed him a chance to watch more of the local Super Rugby in what was one of the stronger parts of the competition.


Watching those games that could be played had been 'awesome', and the quality and standard had been top-notch.


"We're excited to be amongst it and help our team grow but the New Zealand side of the competition has been a high standard," he said.

They would have to deal with an intense effort from the Highlanders when playing as both sides were yet to win.


"It's going to be a tough game. We know they'll be up for that game, so we'll be doing our best to prepare as best we can to perform well," he said.


Leali'ifano said: "It's been challenging, challenging for a lot of teams and people during this time.


"The focus for us has been trying to prepare as if we are playing every week, set our weekly schedule and try to get things going as best we can, now that we're all pretty fit and healthy.


"It's disruptive, but I think we've done well as a group to be focused on our process and trying to get our game right.


"One thing I've enjoyed about this group, and loved, is the mental resilience that the guys have to be able to draw energy from each other, to be able to get through each day," he said.


That would be useful when the side played its catch-up games, but it was also a chance to spread the load for the squad to get exposure, he said.


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