Young Crusader Leicester Fainga’anuku not fussed over All Blacks bolter status

By One News / TVNZ and is republished with permission

A month from today, the All Blacks will play their first Test of the year in a historic clash with Tonga at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland.

Fainga’anuku admitted the black jersey was never his biggest goal growing up. Source: 1 NEWS

That match could have special meaning for rising star Leicester Fainga’anuku, if he’s able to crack the squad after an impressive campaign with the Crusaders.

It could be argued that given his form, Fainaga’anuku deserves to be in the All Blacks discussions but the outside back has a unique view on the black jersey.

“Growing up, there’s always been boys saying, ‘I want to be an All Black,’ but it was always a weird feeling for myself,” he said.

“Like, it wasn’t really a fire burning in my stomach. All I knew was my goal in life was to give back to my family, support them.”

Fainga’anuku’s journey to a potential black jersey has a few more miles to it than others though with the 21 year-old born in Tonga but named after a city in the east midlands of England with a connection to a special win over Italy.

“My name started with my old man,” Faianga’anuku told 1 NEWS.

“He was playing for Tonga at the time in England at the 99 World Cup. It was Leicester Stadium.

“They won by a dropped goal, three points and I think they were partying hard.”

The Fainga’anukus came to New Zealand from Tonga in the early 2000s looking for a better life with dad Malakai working as a plasterer.

Fainga’anuku started out in rugby league in South Auckland before his father moved the family to Nelson for work – and aren’t Tasman and the Crusaders glad they did.

“One thing I do love about the Crusaders is they create good people before good rugby players and that’s always a first,” he said.

“I think coming straight out of school straight into a team like that has really built me into the character I am today.”

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