4 groups for Leni Apisai in a single loopy Tremendous Rugby season
“It was a humorous outdated yr, eh,” says laid-back Leni Apisai with a stage of restraint Harry Houdini can be jealous of. “I’ve by no means seen something prefer it.”
Yesterday, the 26-year-old hooker was known as as much as the Māori All Blacks squad to face Eire, however his has been a season of ceaseless switches – the phrase ‘have boots; will journey’ has by no means been extra apt. He has performed a component for 4 totally different Kiwi franchises in a single Tremendous Rugby Pacific season.
He explains: “I used to be approached by the Chiefs to do the pre-season with them, simply whereas the All Blacks have been on go away. So I managed to play within the two pre-season video games that that they had, main into the competitors.
“In spherical one, the entire competitors moved right down to Queenstown and the Chiefs took 4 hookers – the three contracted guys and myself. There was an damage on the Highlanders, so after the Chiefs performed them, I packed up my suitcases and walked down the highway to the subsequent lodge to hitch them.
“That (have boots, will journey mentality) is type of how I noticed issues this season as a result of, with Moana Pasifika becoming a member of the competitors, the player pool for replacements obtained just a little smaller. There was Covid too. So it was ensuring I used to be injury-free in order that if my telephone did ring then I used to be capable of simply decide up and go, similar to that.”
The No 2 reckons he spent shut to a few months as a Highlander, however he was out and in just like the Hokey Cokey. Having spent a number of weeks with the franchise, he headed again to his household in Wellington, by which level the Hurricanes wanted some cowl. Then, he was up and right down to the Highlanders just a few extra instances.
Nevertheless it didn’t finish there.
“The Crusaders had simply had a four-week stint over in Australia, they have been on the best way residence after which they known as and mentioned that they wanted (coaching) cowl for the subsequent couple of weeks,” he goes on. “So I went to Christchurch on the week they performed the Drua, and that is all occurring inside 48 hours.
“They performed the Drua after which I used to be with them for the final round-robin recreation, in opposition to the Reds. Then on a Monday afternoon, I used to be flying again to Wellington to see my children and my accomplice, simply to spend the day with them. And I get a telephone name from the forwards coach on the Crusaders (Jason Ryan). And it’s, ‘Hey mate, I simply obtained a name from the Landers. They’ve obtained an damage once more and so they’re asking for you. We’re comfortable so that you can be a part of them in the event you’re eager.’
“I’m on my approach again to Wellington however I must get right down to Dunedin. So the subsequent day on I needed to fly from Wellington to Christchurch to select up all my gear, pack my Highlanders gear that I had at residence, go from Christchurch to Dunedin on Wednesday… After which I travelled with them to Melbourne.”
Apisai by no means performed for the Crusaders, however taking to the coaching subject with them meant he had accomplished his set of linking up with every of the New Zealand franchises by means of his profession (he was with the Blues from 2018 to 2021). And anyway, taking part in a pre-season or regular-season recreation for 3 others in a single season is sort of sufficient.
Apisai describes his accomplice as “an actual one” for holding the fort, juggling finding out and taking care of their two boys, a toddler and child, whereas he has been hurling balls throughout New Zealand and past.
In years passed by he has represented the Blues, Hurricanes and Sunwolves, however this was one thing much more dizzying. Even when he obtained known as as much as the ‘Canes this season, amidst flying shuttle up and down the nation, the merciless twist was that he was off to Australia with the group whereas the household have been in Wellington.
The hooker jokes that he has had some associates come out of the woodwork in search of a espresso; a ploy, he suspects, to snaffle a few of the hoards of equipment he has amassed over the season. And that’s nothing in comparison with the muddle of calls and lineout techniques he has needed to cram into his cranium over the season. He says he prides himself on the set-piece planning, however nonetheless… 4 groups!
Now there’s the Māori All Blacks camp to sit up for. Then there’s the NPC season the place he runs out for Auckland (as a result of, after all, a distinct territory!).
As for the long run, Apisai feels he owes it to his newly-graduated, main college trainer accomplice to spend the subsequent few years in New Zealand. However past that, or if the proper provide is available in, they might be open to transferring abroad. Issues simply must be proper for a household man who has clocked up fairly just a few miles already, simply in his personal borders.
What has learnt from all of this, then?
“Ensuring that you’re prepared when known as upon,” he replies. “Once I first began, I used to be 19 once I debuted for the Hurricanes. I didn’t assume I might play in any respect. We had Dane Coles and Motu Matu’u. I didn’t assume I’d cruise by means of, however I didn’t assume I’d play.
“Now, no matter if I’m gonna play, I at all times put together as if I’ll play. In order that if I’m known as upon, then I’m able to go on. That’s how I took this season, as a result of I knew that it was such a novel yr and if I simply stayed injury-free and was obtainable, one thing was gonna pop up across the nation, someplace, sooner or later in time.”