Hurricanes’ Sonny Bill Williams admirer opens up on All Blacks chances

David Skippers
Peter Lakai Hurricanes and x-AB Sonny Bill Williams image.jpg

Hurricanes back-row Peter Lakai on the charge against the Blues and ex-All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams.

Despite catching the eye for the Hurricanes during their run to this year’s Super Rugby Pacific semi-finals, young back-row Peter Lakai has dismissed talk of a possible All Blacks call-up.

Lakai, who shone for New Zealand’s U20 team in 2022, made his Super Rugby Pacific debut in 2023, and after making most of his appearances off the bench in his debut season, he has kicked on and is now a regular in the Wellington-based outfit’s run-on side this year.

Equally at home at number eight or on the openside flank, Lakai has done duty mostly in the number seven jersey for the Hurricanes in 2024 and has been one of their star performers with his breakdown work, defence and particularly his ball carrying of a high standard throughout their campaign.

Explosive ball carrier

The 21-year-old is explosive with the ball in hand and has made the fourth most carries in Super Rugby Pacific in 2024.

His impressive form has led to talk of him winning a call-up to the All Blacks squad for their upcoming Tests against England and Fiji and he will be determined to deliver another outstanding performance when the Hurricanes host the Chiefs in their Super Rugby Pacific semi-final in Wellington.

With Sam Cane, who captained the All Blacks and wore their number seven jersey at last year’s Rugby World Cup in France, set to miss New Zealand’s mid-year internationals due to a back injury, Lakai’s chances of replacing the veteran back-row in new head coach Scott Robertson’s squad have increased.

However, Lakai has revealed that an All Blacks call up is not something he is thinking about as he is concentrating on doing well for the Hurricanes.

“My sole focus has been on the team,” he told Stuff. “Since round one the goal has always been to bring a title back to Wellington. All the other stuff is just a bonus, I guess.”

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Apart from being a strong ball carrier, Lakai has also caught the eye with his impressive passing ability, especially at close range, a skill which he has honed over the years.

“It’s second nature for me,” he said. “I just always want to get my hands on the ball, and get my teams going forward, or play the best option I can.”

It is therefore not surprising that former All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams was a player which he enjoyed watching in his younger days.

“He was a big ball carrier, and really good ball skills for a big guy,” added Lakai. “Good offloads. He could pretty much do it all. And the off-field stuff that he does.”

Amongst several potential All Black call ups

Meanwhile, Hurricanes team-mate, experienced scrum-half TJ Perenara believes Lakai is one of several players at the Wellington-based outfit who deserve All Blacks call-ups after their excellent Super Rugby Pacific form.

“I think a lot of boys have put their hand up,” Perenara told Radio New Zealand.

“It’s not my spot to say who should or shouldn’t be in the All Blacks, but people that have played really well for us this year, the likes of Brayden Iose, Peter Lakai have been amazing. Xavier Numia has played some of the best football of his career and then you’ve got Ruben Love who’s been solid for us at the back and when he touches the ball he often makes something happen.

“Some other players in our environment who probably don’t get as much credit, Josh Moorby has been one of our most consistent players this year. Billy Proctor has been probably our best player over the last two or three years and the glue that he is for our team is super important for us.”

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