Fisiihoi makes Coast history

Former East Coast prop is signed by a Super Rugby franchise.

Former East Coast prop is signed by a Super Rugby franchise.

SEE YOU LATER: Former East Coast prop Ziggy Fisiihoi scores a try in the 2012 Meads Cup final. Fisiihoi has been rewarded for an outstanding season with ITM Cup team Bay of Plenty with a Super Rugby contract with the Chiefs. Picture by Dave Thomas

FORMER Ngati Porou East Coast prop Ziggy Fisiihoi become the first Sky Blues player to be signed by a Super Rugby franchise, when he was named in the Chiefs squad for the 2016 season.

Rua Tipoki had already played Super Rugby before teaming up with coach Ngarimu Simpkins (former Chief) to lead the Coast to a historic Meads Cup final win in 2012.

Fisiihoi, one of the stars of the victorious Coast team, joins Charlie Ngatai and one-match Poverty Bay hooker Hika Elliot in Dave Rennie’s squad.

Fisiihoi’s performances for the Coast in 2012 resulted in a contract with Hawke’s Bay.

But a serious neck injury put paid to hopes of becoming a permanent fixture in the Magpies side and he returned to the Coast for the 2013 Heartland Championship season before being lured to Rotorua to play for Rotoiti.

He made the Bay of Plenty team for this season’s ITM Cup and was one of their most consistent performers as the Steamers reached the semfinals, where they went down to eventual winners Hawke’s Bay.

■ The Blues have assembled a strong squad, but one with question marks still remaining around that crucial 9-10 axis.

Much will depend on how 2014 NZ Schools halfback and Taniwha rep Sam Nock makes the transition to Super Rugby. He has clear talent but his form was down playing in a winless Northland side. North Harbour captain Bryn Hall will need to up the ante, with Billy Guyton of Tasman providing back-up.

If first five Ihaia West continues his Hawke’s Bay form, then he should be able to erase a difficult first half of 2015, when his confidence waned.

A midfield of George Moala and Rene Ranger looks potentially threatening to all opposition defences, whilst Blues fans would love to see 2016 as the full flowering of the inconsistent wing Tevita Li.

■ The defending champion Highlanders have 29 players returning from the 2015 team who won their first title. Mid-season injury replacements Daniel Lienert-Brown (prop) and James Lentjes (flanker) return on full contracts, while the loose forward stocks have been bolstered by Liam Squire (Tasman) and Luke Whitelock (Canterbury), after the departures of experienced campaigners Nasi Manu and John Hardie. Also joining the forwards is Siua Halanukonuka (Tasman), the Tongan-born prop has had a solid season for Tasman and hooker Greg Pleasants-Tate (Auckland) who will add some depth to the front-row. Craig Millar (Otago) returns to the squad after a one year hiatus due to injury.

FORMER Ngati Porou East Coast prop Ziggy Fisiihoi become the first Sky Blues player to be signed by a Super Rugby franchise, when he was named in the Chiefs squad for the 2016 season.

Rua Tipoki had already played Super Rugby before teaming up with coach Ngarimu Simpkins (former Chief) to lead the Coast to a historic Meads Cup final win in 2012.

Fisiihoi, one of the stars of the victorious Coast team, joins Charlie Ngatai and one-match Poverty Bay hooker Hika Elliot in Dave Rennie’s squad.

Fisiihoi’s performances for the Coast in 2012 resulted in a contract with Hawke’s Bay.

But a serious neck injury put paid to hopes of becoming a permanent fixture in the Magpies side and he returned to the Coast for the 2013 Heartland Championship season before being lured to Rotorua to play for Rotoiti.

He made the Bay of Plenty team for this season’s ITM Cup and was one of their most consistent performers as the Steamers reached the semfinals, where they went down to eventual winners Hawke’s Bay.

■ The Blues have assembled a strong squad, but one with question marks still remaining around that crucial 9-10 axis.

Much will depend on how 2014 NZ Schools halfback and Taniwha rep Sam Nock makes the transition to Super Rugby. He has clear talent but his form was down playing in a winless Northland side. North Harbour captain Bryn Hall will need to up the ante, with Billy Guyton of Tasman providing back-up.

If first five Ihaia West continues his Hawke’s Bay form, then he should be able to erase a difficult first half of 2015, when his confidence waned.

A midfield of George Moala and Rene Ranger looks potentially threatening to all opposition defences, whilst Blues fans would love to see 2016 as the full flowering of the inconsistent wing Tevita Li.

■ The defending champion Highlanders have 29 players returning from the 2015 team who won their first title. Mid-season injury replacements Daniel Lienert-Brown (prop) and James Lentjes (flanker) return on full contracts, while the loose forward stocks have been bolstered by Liam Squire (Tasman) and Luke Whitelock (Canterbury), after the departures of experienced campaigners Nasi Manu and John Hardie. Also joining the forwards is Siua Halanukonuka (Tasman), the Tongan-born prop has had a solid season for Tasman and hooker Greg Pleasants-Tate (Auckland) who will add some depth to the front-row. Craig Millar (Otago) returns to the squad after a one year hiatus due to injury.

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