Four groups for Leni Apisai in a single loopy Super Rugby season

Four groups for Leni Apisai in a single loopy Super Rugby season

“It was a funny old year, eh,” says laid-back Leni Apisai with a degree of restraint Harry Houdini can be jealous of. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Yesterday, the 26-year-old hooker used to be known as as much as the Māori All Blacks squad to stand Ireland, however his has been a season of ceaseless switches – the word ‘have boots; will travel’ hasn’t ever been extra apt. He has performed an element for 4 other Kiwi franchises in a single Super Rugby Pacific season. 

He explains: “I used to be approached through the Chiefs to do the pre-season with them, simply whilst the All Blacks have been on go away. So I controlled to play within the two pre-season video games that they’d, main into the contest.

“In around one, the entire festival moved right down to Queenstown and the Chiefs took 4 hookers – the 3 gotten smaller guys and myself. There used to be an damage on the Highlanders, so after the Chiefs performed them, I packed up my suitcases and walked down the street to the following resort to sign up for them.

“That (have boots, will travel mentality) is kind of how I saw things this season because, with Moana Pasifika joining the competition, the player pool for replacements got a little smaller. There was Covid too. So it was making sure I was injury-free so that if my phone did ring then I was able to just pick up and go, just like that.”

The No 2 reckons he spent with regards to 3 months as a Highlander, however he used to be out and in just like the Hokey Cokey. Having spent a number of weeks with the franchise, he headed again to his circle of relatives in Wellington, in which level the Hurricanes wanted some duvet. Then, he used to be up and right down to the Highlanders a couple of extra instances. 

But it didn’t finish there. 

“The Crusaders had just had a four-week stint over in Australia, they were on the way home and then they called and said that they needed (training) cover for the next couple of weeks,” he is going on. “So I went to Christchurch at the week they performed the Drua, and that is all going down inside 48 hours. 

“They performed the Drua after which I used to be with them for the remaining round-robin recreation, towards the Reds. Then on a Monday afternoon, I used to be flying again to Wellington to look my children and my spouse, simply to spend the day with them. And I am getting a telephone name from the forwards trainer on the Crusaders (Jason Ryan). And it’s, ‘Hey mate, I  just got a call from the Landers. They’ve were given an damage once more and so they’re soliciting for you. We’re satisfied for you to sign up for them in case you’re prepared.’

“I’m on my way back to Wellington but I need to get down to Dunedin. So the next day on I had to fly from Wellington to Christchurch to pick up all my gear, pack my Highlanders gear that I had at home, go from Christchurch to Dunedin on Wednesday… And then I travelled with them to Melbourne.”

In Crusaders coaching (Getty Images)

Apisai by no means performed for the Crusaders, however taking to the educational box with them supposed he had finished his set of linking up with every of the New Zealand franchises thru his occupation (he used to be with the Blues from 2018 to 2021). And anyway, enjoying a pre-season or regular-season recreation for 3 others in a single season is fairly sufficient. 

Apisai describes his spouse as “a real one” for containing the castle, juggling learning and taking a look after their two boys, a child and child, whilst he has been hurling balls throughout New Zealand and past.

In years long past through he has represented the Blues, Hurricanes and Sunwolves, however this used to be one thing way more dizzying. Even when he were given known as as much as the ‘Canes this season, amidst flying commute up and down the rustic, the harsh twist used to be that he used to be off to Australia with the workforce whilst the circle of relatives have been in Wellington. 

The hooker jokes that he has had some pals pop out of the woodwork on the lookout for a espresso; a ploy, he suspects, to snaffle one of the hoards of apparatus he has collected over the season. And that’s not anything in comparison to the litter of calls and lineout techniques he has needed to cram into his cranium over the season. He says he prides himself at the set-piece making plans, however nonetheless… Four groups!

Now there may be the Māori All Blacks camp to stay up for. Then there’s the NPC season the place he runs out for Auckland (as a result of, in fact, a special territory!).

As for the longer term, Apisai feels he owes it to his newly-graduated, number one college instructor spouse to spend the following few years in New Zealand. But past that, or if the fitting be offering is available in, they’d be open to shifting out of the country. Things simply should be proper for a circle of relatives guy who has clocked up fairly a couple of miles already, simply in his personal borders. 

What has learnt from all of this, then?

“Making sure that you are ready when called upon,” he replies. “When I first began, I used to be 19 once I debuted for the Hurricanes. I didn’t suppose I might play in any respect. We had Dane Coles and Motu Matu’u. I didn’t suppose I’d cruise thru, however I didn’t suppose I’d play. 

“Now, regardless of if I’m gonna play, I always prepare as if I will play. So that if I am called upon, then I’m ready to go on. That’s how I took this season, because I knew that it was such a unique year and if I just stayed injury-free and was available, something was gonna pop up around the country, somewhere, at some point in time.”

Whatever occurs subsequent for Leni Apisai, something is evidently: the person isn’t any stranger to an airport terminal.

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