Super title win priceless for Sopoaga

Date published: July 5 2015

Born and raised in Wellington, Saturday's Super Rugby glory for the Highlanders was extra special for Lima Sopoaga.

The 24-year-old has enjoyed a breakout year, finishing as the top points scorer in the competition with 191, and being called up by New Zealand.

Winning the Super Rugby title at Westpac Stadium however topped things off for Sopoaga, who spent three years playing for Wellington between 2010-2013.

"There were a few tears and a few hugs and a few laughs. My grandma was pretty emotional," Sopoaga told Stuff.

"I couldn't have picked a better place to come and play a grand final. There was so much support and so much love here.

"My credit card had to pay for it but it was all worth it in the end. I had to get about 128 tickets for the friends and family who were up there making some noise. It was pretty special. I made my debut here. To win a grand final – you wouldn't read about it."

Sopoaga was forced off in the second half, with replacement Marty Banks coming on and adding a crucial drop goal as the Highlanders closed out the match.

"It was such a hectic pace out there and I just cramped up. It has never happened before. And Marty come on, closed the deal and put the dagger in.

"He dummied two and then he was like 'that's it', it is time to put this to bed. He did a fantastic job."

For his old team-mates Sopoaga felt hugely sympathetic, especially for those Hurricanes players who were bowing out after long careers in Wellington.

"Guys like Snakey [Conrad Smith], Nonu and Thrushie have been stalwarts of the Hurricanes and (Wellington) Lions. I have looked up to those guys growing up here and I wish them nothing but the best."