New Zealand: Leicester Fainga’anuku missed his name in the squad announcement but is honoured to earn his first call-up

Dylan Coetzee

New All Black call-up Leicester Fainga’anuku has revealed how he realised he was in head coach Ian Foster’s squad and how grateful he is for the honour.

Fainga’anuku has been in dazzling form for the Crusaders and was top try-scorer in the regular season of the Super Rugby Pacific campaign with 11 crossings.


However, it is not only this season where the speedster has shown excellent form, as he also put in solid shifts last year, with his stock rising with each outing.

That form was rewarded on Monday when the 22-year-old was included in the All Blacks squad, explaining it was a comical moment as he missed his name.

“It’s been a bizarre few hours, watching the TV as a team. I didn’t quite catch my name until the boys started congratulating me. That’s when I realised I must be in,” he told the All Blacks website.

“It’s something you don’t really hear quite often and very few get the opportunity to be named in the ABs squad and for me I’m truly grateful and blessed to get the opportunity to be able to get selected and I understand the opportunity I get to be able to grow my game alongside some of the best players in this country.

Fainga’anuku says his phone has been blowing up since the announcement, with people from all chapters of his journey congratulating him on his achievement.

“That’s what makes it special to be selected in the squad and to understand the amount of support and belief people have had in me since the day I picked up a footy ball,” he said.

“I’m not only doing this for myself and family, but those who believed in me.”

Willingness for feedback and information on how and where he can improve his game has been vital for the young star to develop his game to the level where he could earn his first call-up.

Commitment to development in this way is a hallmark of the high standards set by New Zealand rugby.

“That’s breakdowns, ball carry, aerial game, whatever it is, and I always try to focus on showing strength in all areas and finding out if there are weaknesses or work-ons which is something I try to take on board,” he said.

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