Flying Fijian top try scorer

TRY MACHINE: Filimoni Waqainabete leads the Metro Premier Cup competition with 11 tries. Photo: Tony Brunt

Sumner winger Filimoni Waiqainabete is enjoying a breakout season in premier club rugby which has seen him become the leading try scorer with 11 after the opening Hawkins Cup round.

Waiqainabete, 21, didn’t always picture himself as a speedy tackle-breaking outside back or centre though.

Growing up in Suva the Fijian player’s first experiences in rugby were spent playing at first-five.

“We would play with a water bottle and call out the name of our favourite player when we got the bottle, mine was Dan Carter,” said Waiqainabete.

“That’s always been the goal, to be like him and play for the Crusaders.”

Earlier this year he got a rare chance to show off his play-making skills. Sumner came into their 36-27 win over Marist Albion on April 14 already down a first-five due to illness, then, when starting first-five Josh Toy suffered a concussion, they found themselves in a pickle.

Waiqainabete immediately put up his hand to fill in the spot and even put in a smart chip kick to set up a try during the game.

“You should have seen the opposition 10, he looked up and went: ‘What the f***’,” said Sumner coach Martin Dodgson.

The Fijian’s form has also been rewarded by being named in Joe Maddock’s winter training squad ahead of Canterbury’s NPC season.

After growing up in Suva he moved to Christchurch with his family to Christchurch in 2012 when his father took up a new job. Waiqainabete played for the Burnside High School first XV in the UC Championship during 2013 and 2014, where he played under then coach Kevin Harding.

“My family moved back to Fiji in 2013 . . . he told me to move in with him for 2014 to keep playing rugby,” said Waiqainabete.

“He’s been my mentor not just with my game but with life as well . . . I was a Fijian boy so it was a real eye-opener adjusting
to life here. There was no
more lazing around island
time.”

After spells with Burnside (club) and New Brighton he is now enjoying life at Sumner and believes the team has the goods this year.

“I think we can go all the way. We’ve got a good young squad and everyone has the belief,” said Waiqainabete.

Top try scorers:

Filimoni Waqainabete, 11; Jack Griffiths

(Christchurch), 10; Dallas McLeod (Christchurch), 9; Dylan Nel (Sumner), 8; Brad Tucker (Christchurch), 7; Dan Fransen (Sydenham), 7; Henry Scott (Christchurch), 6; Jone Macilai (University), 6; Paul Garner (New Brighton), 6; Hayden O’Donnell (Sumner), 6.

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