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Watch Kini: Dad

He could be up against fellow Fijians Chris Kuridrani, Jona Nareki and Tevita Nabura but he’s ready to have a crack-Aporosa Naholo.
07 Jun 2020 12:35
Watch Kini: Dad
Kini Naholo.

Aporosa Naholo believes his son, Kini, will prove himself against the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin when Super Rugby Aotearoa kicks off on Saturday.

And should Chiefs head coach Warren Gatland gives the Nadroumai, Nadroga native the nod to make his Super Rugby debut, Aporosa is optimistic the 21-year old can surpass his elder brother and former All Blacks flyer Waisake Naholo.

He rates Kini as potentially quicker and stronger and has the talent to match Waisake who played for the Highlanders in 2015-19 and is now on contract with London Irish Exiles in the Gallagher Premiership Rugby in England.

“He’s stronger than Waisake, watch Kini,”Aporosa said.

“He called us on Friday after the Chiefs training run and he’s looking forward to the game.

“He could be up against fellow Fijians Chris Kuridrani, Jona Nareki and Tevita Nabura, he’s ready to have a crack.

“If not for the COVID-19 travel restrictions, I could have been in Dunedin to support him and the Chiefs. In fact his other brotherMeli is still here with us at the village and should be in New Zealand preparing with Taranaki for the Mitre 10 Cup competition which resumes on August 6.”

Kini is the youngest of three rugby-playing brothers who are all products of Taranaki’s club rugby development programme.

Taranaki coach Willie Rickards said Kini was very similar to Waisake, even in body stature, with each of them possessing a powerful running game with the handling skills and strong defence to match, but the youngest Naholo has been troubled with leg injuries in his two seasons with Taranaki, limiting his playing opportunities.

“We first came across him through Waisake. We’ve got a really big push to have brothers and people with connections to Taranaki Rugby to stay within our community,” Rickards told Rugby Heaven.

“He has a very similar body stature but he’s probably a little bit shorter. His attack with the ball, we know what he can do, but defensively he’s very good. He brings great aggression there.”

Clifton assistant coach Lane Dombroski has seen plenty of Kini since he joined the club after finishing school in 2017.

“As soon as you looked at him, you thought he was going to be an All Black,” Dombroski said.

“[There are] a lot of the same skills you see with Waisake but he probably has a better skill set. He’s got everything really.

“It’s tough to say but Kini is quicker and has natural pace. He looked like he was cruising but he could go. You just know when they’ve got that X-factor, as soon as they show up.”

Aged 19, he made his provincial debut in Taranaki’s Ranfurly Shield defence against Poverty Bay in July, 2018, scoring twice in a 78-0 romp that was Rickards’ first game as coach.

Highlanders prep for ‘world first’

The Highlanders could have the honour of being the first top-class sporting side on the planet to host a live event in front of a crowd since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tickets for their opening Super Rugby Aotearoa clash against the Chiefs on Saturday could go on sale as early as 4:30pm tomorrow, depending on whether New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern lifts public gathering restrictions in the coming days.

“We could be the first live sporting event in the world so you’ve got to be excited about that,” Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark told the Otago Daily Times.

“Of course we have to wait until Monday and see what the Prime Minister says, but if we get the go-ahead, then that would be great.

“This could be a history-making, world-first event, the first of its kind since the pandemic.

“It’s bloody exciting for Dunedin, the stadium and for the Highlanders.

“We are getting ready for the tickets to go on sale at 4.30pm on Monday and have been in touch with all our sponsors and members who are pretty excited about it.”

The match at Forsyth Barr Stadium will be the Highlanders’ first in Dunedin since their 28-22 defeat to the Melbourne Rebels on February 28, meaning Clark was hopeful of a big crowd for the return of rugby after over three months.

Edited by Simione Haravanua

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