Dowdy old Johnsonville have pulled off a bit of a coup in securing the playing services of dual rugby and league international Henry Fa'afili.
Best known as a member of the New Zealand Warriors team that reached the 2002 NRL grand final, the 33-year-old went on to enjoy a stellar career at Super League club Warrington, before stints playing rugby at Biarritz, Leeds and Connacht.
Fa'afili, who's been living on the Kapiti Coast for the past few months, had been playing for Waikanae in the Horowhenua-Kapiti competition but transferred to Johnsonville last week and played at second five-eighth in their 21-0 Hardham Cup loss to Wellington on Saturday.
Wellington weren't impressed by news of Fa'afili's change of clubs and contacted the Wellington Rugby Union.
But Johnsonville chairman Mike Segetin said the move was conducted "by the book" and he double checked with the union before allowing Fa'afili to play.
Now Segetin looks forward to the former Kiwis league international and Samoan rugby representative becoming a fixture at Johnsonville.
"Isn't it better to bring someone like Henry Fa'afili into the Wellington competition, rather than just continue to raid each other's stocks? Anyone who might think Henry Fa'afili would not strengthen Wellington rugby is kidding.
"Everyone's just p..... off that Johnsonville got a march on them. We couldn't offer him Jubilee Cup rugby or a lot of other things that other clubs could.
"What we could offer him was a challenge and a chance to be part of a long-term strategy and that's what he liked."
Fa'afili, who is working as a gym trainer, will continue to run Waikanae's Tuesday fitness sessions and only train with Johnsonville on Thursdays.
That suits Segetin fine, who was delighted someone with Fa'afili's pedigree wanted to help Johnsonville climb back into the top echelon of Wellington club rugby.
"We see him as part of our club's long-term strategy, not only in a playing sense but in a coaching sense as well, and just with the leadership and experience he can bring to our team," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News