Ex-Crusaders named in HK squad
Former Crusaders halfback and Samoa representative Kahn Fotuali’i has been named in the HorowhenuaKa¯piti training squad and could well wear a red, white and blue jersey this season. He is one of six players from outside Horowhenua-Ka¯ piti vying for three available spots in the team to fill the import player quota, along with Izzy Foai, Keenan Gillson, Bryn Gordon and Benedict Grant from Manawatu¯ , and James So’oialo from Wellington. Fotuali’i, now aged 39, has played rugby all over the world, however, this season he played club rugby for Freyberg in the Manawatu¯ competition - coincidentally the same club current Horowhenua-Ka¯piti coach Chris Wilton played for in his heydey. Wilton said having an experienced international player like Fotuali’i available would be invaluable, not only as a player, but also as a mentor for all players within the Horowhenua-Ka¯piti team. “He might be in the twilight of his career but he just wants to give back to the game. He is still very classy and would add so much to the team,” he said. Little more than a decade ago Fotuali’i was arguably one of the best halfbacks in world rugby. Just watch the highlights reels. He must have came close to All Black selection after forcing All Black halfback Andy Ellis to the Crusaders bench for much of the 2010 Super Rugby championship. Fotuali’i then represented Samoa, captaining the team after making his debut against Japan in 2010. He went on to play 35 times for Samoa. In 2011 he joined top Welsh side Ospreys. In 2014, he signed with Northampton Saints and played there for three years, before playing three season at Bath. In the 2019-20 season he had signed with French team Montpellier. Earlier in his career he played for both Hawke’s Bay and Tasman, but he has never played in a Heartland Championship. Meanwhile, Wilton and HK assistant coach Aleni Feagaiga have named a large training squad to start preparing for the 2021 Bunnings Heartland Championship. Training began earlier this week at Playford Park for the 36 players named. Wilton, who was now in his eighth year with the team and sixth as head coach, said there was an excitement within the squad having not had a Heartland Championship last season due to Covid-19. Their pre-season campaign will consist of two matches next month, the¯first against Central Hawke’s Bay at Ota¯ne, population 537, on August 7, and the second against Wellington Ma¯ori at Levin Domain on August 14. Central Hawke’s Bay was a subunion made from eight country clubs within the Hawke’s Bay province. They were good enough to play HK during the shortened Covid-19 season last year and the fixture was a chance to reciprocate that goodwill. Wilton and the coaching staff would then have the unenviable job of whittling down the squad to 22 for the first Heartland competition game against Whanganui at Cooks Garden on Saturday, August 21. There is a host of form players from the domestic club rugby included in the squad, with seven players apiece from the championship-winning Paraparaumu club and runners-up College Old Boys teams. HOROWHENUA-KAPITI ¯ TRAINING SQUAD: Aaron Lahmert, Kolonio Koto (Waikanae), Aublix Tawha, Daniel Smith, Darren Falaniko, James Gilland, Ryan Shelford, Tautau Kapea, Thomas Barnsley (Paraparaumu), Brock Willis (Athletic), Connor Paki, Malua Iakopo, Robin Pratt, David McErlean (Foxton), Dallas Wiki, Sean Pape, Treden Winterburn (Shannon), Hamish Buick, Joel Winterburn, Jack Tatu-Robertsson, Leon Ellison, Lewis Marshall, Morehu Connor-Phillips (Rahui), Himiona Henare, Jordon Tu Pai i, Poleka LevaveItielu, Scott Anderson, Anthony Ackerman, Lennix Tovo, Willie Paia’aua (COB), Izzy Foai, Keenan Gillson (Old Boys University), James So’oialo (Tawa), Kahn Fotuali’i (Freyberg), Bryn Gordon and Benedict Grant (Te Kawau). Horowhenua–Ka¯ piti management team: Chris Wilton – head coach. Aleni Feagaiga – assistant coach. Tom Zimmerman – manager. Matt Harvey – assistant manager.