Rookie Watch: Fainga'anuku makes his mark

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Every week throughout Super Rugby we will award the three best performing rookies three, two or one points and at the end of the season a New Zealand Investec Super Rugby Rookie of the Year will be named.

 

Here are our three stand out rookies from round one.

 

3 Points:  Leicester Fainga'anuku (Crusaders)

Last year the Crusaders unleashed a rookie wing named Sevu Reece on the competition. Relatively unknown at the start of the season, Reece finished the season with 15 tries and a spot in the All Blacks. After just one round it is hard not to compare 20-year-old wing Leicester Fainga’anuku with Reece. Standing at 1.88cm and weighing 109kg, Fainga’anuku is one of the biggest backs in the competition and showed in the weekend’s clash against the Waratahs that size isn’t the only thing on his side. Fainga’anuku was a constant threat on attack for the Crusaders and showed his class with a brilliant individual try where he shrugged off several Waratahs defenders.

2 Points: Tom Christie (Crusaders)

Stepping into the boots filled by Matt Todd and Richie McCaw over the past two decades was never going to be easy, but 21-year-old flanker Tom Christie made a good fist of it in his first start for the Crusaders. The former New Zealand Under 20s captain was never far from the action against the Waratahs and put in a tireless effort on defence with 11 tackles. He matched up well against world class opposite Michael Hooper and will take plenty from the experience.

 

1 point: Quinn Tupaea (Chiefs)

After dominating at Mitre 10 Cup level for Waikato over the past two seasons, dynamic mid-fielder Quinn Tupaea made a promising start to his Super Rugby career for the Chiefs in their season-opening clash against the Blues. Tupaea matched up well against Blues and England centre Joe Marchant and was particularly strong on defence with nine tackles. Although he didn’t blow the game open with ball in hand like he so often did in the Mitre 10 Cup, Tupaea laid on a number of slick touches to show that he will be a handful for opposition defenders in 2020.

 

NOTE: The qualification for rookies is players that are either playing in their first season of Super Rugby or who are playing their first season as a contracted player and have played less than five games prior to 2019.

 

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