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About the prop Afeaki (1m93 ; 139 kg)

  • Thread starter Benazzi est le meilleur
  • Start date

Benazzi est le meilleur

Who can translate in French ? :wah:
It's a big baby :cheers:

When Carl Hayman announced he was up and taking his massive frame to Newcastle after the world cup, it's fair to say a collective shudder reverberated around New Zealand rugby. Where were we going to get another man mountain like that to anchor the All Blacks scrum?

Well, call off the search. Or at least divert it the way of Albany, north of Auckland, for North Harbour Wayne Pivac coach might just well have his hands on New Zealand's next ***an of the tighthead.

His name is Ben Afeaki, he's 19, stands an imposing 1.93m (that's 6ft 3in in the old money) and weighs in at 139kg, which generally means he can't use the clip-on lanes when he crosses Auckland's Harbour Bridge. He has also made an impressive start to his first season of provincial rugby.

Afeaki is one of two members of the world championship-winning New Zealand Under-19s running round for Harbour in this year's Air NZ Cup (the other is lock Chris Smith, who captained the age-graders in Ireland), and he's definitely the most interesting.

There's that size for starters. This is one big boy. Yet standing alongside him at North Harbour's training facility, you don't get the feeling he's uncomfortable with the baggage he's carrying. Pivac says they'd like to clip a few kilos off him and the young man himself concedes he "needs to get more mobile", but let's just say the raw material is definitely there.

"You think of 139kg and you think of someone carrying too much weight," says Pivac. "But he's just a big guy all over. We'll be able to shed some of that down in the off-season but it's not like he's grossly overweight."

Afeaki has made an impressive start to his provincial career. Shrugging off a hamstring injury that ruled him out of the opening week, he fronted in a mighty 80-minute effort in last week's shield defence against Taranaki, and was there again on Friday night, trundling away in the draw against Counties Manukau.

"He's got a huge future," says Pivac. "We'd like to think we can help him further develop his game.

"Looking back to the Carl Haymans of this world, they started off in the NPC and took a few hidings every now and again.

"If we can help him develop his game this year then he's going to be a much better player for it. He's just going to get stronger and stronger."

Afeaki, whose New Zealand mother and Tongan father now live in Brisbane, is still somewhat on the shy side, and a little unsettled by the attention. He speaks about how nervous he was the week of the Taranaki challenge and how proud he'd been to help Harbour defend the Log.

Hayman and Kees Meeuws have been his idols ever since his coaches at Sacred Heart College in Auckland decided to turn him from a No8 into a front-rower.

He's also honest enough to concede that the hard, physical encounter against the Naki took a bit out of him. "My body was real sore," he says.

The next step? "Just to maintain my composure, keep on playing and just don't drop off. If I can learn something from every game it would be good."

Dare he dream of a Super 14 contract? "That'd be wild," he grins.

There's plenty of tuition, too, for this young man who's a second cousin of Tongan internationals Inoke and Stanley Afeaki. He's part of an elite group receiving specialist guidance from national scrum guru Mike Cron.
Yeah, I saw this guy playing in the U19 RWC. He was making Jonah Lomu runs through the midfield. Was amazing to watch. The South Africans are usually big units, but Afeaki made them look like normal boys. Which was really weird.

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