Rebels pounce on hot stepping Veainu
Telusa Veainu might have said a quiet "thank you" to Deb Robinson when he signed for the Melbourne Rebels.
Veainu, who scored a memorable long-range try for the Crusaders against the Highlanders in Dunedin on June 29, has signed a two-year deal with the Australian Super Rugby franchise.
Possessing clips of such spectacular tries can cause player agents to rub their hands with glee.
But had it not been for the intervention of ex-All Blacks doctor Robinson, Veainu may never have scored that cracker - or been allowed to play Super Rugby this season.
The 22-year-old was expected to be a member of the Highlanders' wider training group but wasn't accepted because the New Zealand Rugby Union refused him clearance because of his ankle problems.
"Everyone thought I was down in Dunedin with the wider training group. I had just finished the sevens down in Queenstown (late last year) and I was waiting around to see whether the Highlanders would take me or not," Veainu recently told The Press.
"But since I failed my medical I couldn't pick up a contract with anyone. It sort of left me hanging a wee bit."
Then Robinson intervened and everything changed.
"I was meant to go and get surgery on my ankle," Veainu added.
"I went to see Deb Robinson who had just come back from the All Blacks and she cleared the surgery and everything just fell into the right hands. Thank goodness for Dr Deb."
When wing Johnny McNicholl broke his lower fibula playing the Stormers in Cape Town on March 31 Veainu was invited into the Crusaders and made his debut against his old team the Highlanders.
"That opened a window of opportunity for me. It was just a matter of being patient and prepping myself. When it finally came I just tried to make the most of it."
He had been a member of the Highlanders for the previous two seasons, making five appearances.
Veainu scored 21 tries in 34 games for Canterbury in three seasons before his former Canterbury under-65kg coach, Craig Philpott, lured him to Hawke's Bay.
New Rebels coach Tony McGahan has signed the former New Zealand-under 20 rep as a developing foreign player as cover for the loss of Japan-based former Warriors and Wallabies wing Cooper Vuna.
Veainu joins All Black and ex-Highlanders team-mate Tamati Ellison on their roster.
The Rebels have also lost Wallabies James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale.