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Chiefs wing Tikoirotuma thinking of Europe move

BEN STRANG
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2014
Asaeli Tikoirotuma
MIKE SCOTT/Fairfax NZ
FAMILY FIRST: Chiefs winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma is open to a move to Europe in the near future, but after winning the three-peat.

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Family is the most important thing for Chiefs winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma, and it could lead him to Europe at the end of the Super Rugby season.

The big Fijian said he will do what's best for his young family when it comes to his future, and although his plans keep changing, he is open to a big-money move to Europe if an offer came his way.

That is, after winning a third straight Super XV title, of course.

"If we can win this three-peat, I'll be happy to move on, or see what happens from there," he said.

Tikoirotuma made his debut for Fiji during their end-of-year tour last year, which provided him with a chance to showcase his skills on the world stage.

His wife and three kids, the oldest of whom turns 4 on Saturday, were happy he had made it to the Fijian team, and know it could open opportunities in the future.

"That's another story, playing international rugby, another level of rugby. I'm really happy with what I've achieved," he said.

"It wasn't a goal at the start. Because I'm having a small family to bring up, I thought I'd play for Fiji and try and take my trade somewhere else so I can look after my family."

Tikoirotuma has made a dream rise up the rugby ranks, having started as a Heartland Championship player with Wanganui for five years, before making the move to ITM Cup side Manawatu in 2010.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie was in charge at Manawatu at the time, and then brought Tikoirotuma to the Chiefs when he started coaching the franchise in 2012.

Assistant coach Wayne Smith said Tikoirotuma is a player who would have fallen under the radar had it not been for the Chiefs coaching team.

"We were pretty lucky having Dave Rennie, Tom Coventry and Andrew Strawbridge all coming from ITM Cup, so they know the quality of these young guys, and it gave us a real advantage when we selected that first team," Smith said

"Tiks is one of those that maybe no one else really knew about, but our coaches did.

"You know, he's won two championships now, just like Andrew Horrell. They've both proven to me that they're top-class players."

"Tiks is a player who we really recognise as having huge value. For me, system-wise, I think he's the best defensive winger in the country. He understands the game . . . understands how to cover their plays from the wing. He's a player that we're really happy for."

Tikoirotuma said he has worked hard on his defence and is proud of that aspect of his game, having come into the Chiefs as a defensive liability.

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"When I came here the first year I was struggling a bit, so I put more time and emphasis on that, and I think I came out firing in the second year."

Now he plans to work on his kicking game, which he said needs to "sharpen up a bit", and said he sometimes takes his speed for granted.

Any decisions about his future will come later in the season, although he does have one goal set in stone.

"That was my goal, to play for Fiji in the next World Cup, but again, we'll see what happens. If there's no injuries."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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