Hurricanes winger Leiua passes Samoa test

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 27/06/2013
Alapati Leiua
CRAIG SIMCOX/Fairfax NZ
SUPERSTAR: Alapati Leiua produced some standout displays for Samoa.

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For the Hurricanes' seven-strong All Blacks contingent, reassembling for Super Rugby duty hasn't been too arduous.

Yes, they're jaded - Conrad Smith in particular - but the journey from New Plymouth hasn't taken a heavy toll on their bodies.

Pretoria? Well that's another matter.

Given our pre-occupation with the All Blacks, we might have forgotten that Alapati Leiua, Jack Lam and Tusi Pisi have been playing for Samoa in South Africa this month.

Only Leiua managed to train with the Hurricanes yesterday after the jet-lagged trio's return from South Africa on Tuesday.

A first-choice player for the Hurricanes over the past two seasons, Leiua was too fatigued to be picked in his customary position of right wing for tomorrow's clash with the Chiefs.

But while his body's broken, his spirits are definitely in one piece after being a standout on Samoa's three-test tour.

He was in dynamic form in the 27-17 win over Scotland, scored his first test try as Italy were beaten 39-10 and was again on the wing for the 56-23 loss to South Africa in the quadrangular tournament decider on Sunday morning.

"I was a little nervous but it was a really good experience, especially because I was playing [international rugby] for the first time," Leiua said yesterday.

Talked about as a potential All Black this year, he eventually plumped for the country of his birth.

He'd had the chance to represent Samoa before but wasn't sure his game was quite up to test standard.

So he worked tirelessly on catching high balls and drawing and passing and all the fundamental skills a wing needs to have in order not to get exposed at the highest level.

Leiua might not be the most brilliant player but his error rate is very low and that gave him the confidence that he could foot it on the biggest stage.

He said having Lam and Pisi with him also helped while his brother, flanker Ofisa Treviranus, was also in the touring party. The performances of the team buoyed everyone too and it's fair to say the Stephen Betham-coached Samoa are now one of the better sides around.

"It was hard. We only met up a couple of days before the first game but things quickly built up from there and we want to keep moving things forward and prepare for the [2015] World Cup," said Leiua.

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- The Dominion Post

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