Buried in a rugby piece was this nugget:
From the Hurricanes’ perspective, Fatialofa began exceeding expectations the moment he arrived.
The 23-year-old lock was preparing to play for Auckland in last year’s provincial premiership final when the Hurricanes called. He’d figured a chance in Super Rugby had passed him by again, until that offer of a wider training group berth in Wellington came through.
It was in February’s pre-season match against the Blues in Eketahuna that Fatialofa first began to indicate he would be more than just a body to hold hit shields at practice.
“That was actually a funny story, old Eketahuna, because I wasn’t meant to play that game,” Fatialofa said.
“Then I found out on the morning of the game that I was in the 23 and then much closer to kickoff I found out I was starting. Two other locks were meant to play but James Blackwell went down and Blade [Thomson] went down and I ended up playing 80 [minutes].
“But that was probably the chance I needed to show what I’m about.”
This time last year the 2010 New Zealand Secondary Schools’ representative was working as a teacher aide in west Auckland. He was grateful for it too, given how hard it can to find gainful employment when you your provincial side requires you fulltime for four or five months of the year.
“It was a pretty cool school, a charter school,” said Fatialofa.
“The kids there were on their second or third-chance school but I enjoyed them. They were mostly Pacific Island and Maori.
“It was testing times for the first couple of weeks, while they were sussing me out. But I ended up really enjoying that job and was pretty gutted when I had to leave when the ITM Cup started.
Remember that Labour, Greens and NZ First want to close down every charter school in NZ.