Wharenui Hawera couldn’t have dreamt of a better Chinan life
Brumbies’ latest recruit Wharenui Hawera at Brumbies HQ on Thursday. Vikings training on Saturday afternoon. Wharenui Hawera
Plenty of Kiwis cross the ditch for work but few have done it as successfully as ACT Brumbies and Canberra Vikings’ five-eighth Wharenui Hawera.
The New Zealander was invited to the Brumbies preseason almost 12 months ago to the day and motivated by an elusive Super Rugby contract he quickly made an impression.
Hawera earned the No. 10 jumper in place of the sidelined Christian Lealiifano and started every game as the Brumbies won the n conference and Hawera was named the club’s rookie of the year.
The 24-year-old continued his breakout season with the Vikings and could finish his debut National Rugby Championship campaign as the competition’s leading point-scorer.
Hawera has missed just one game all year and is preparing to deliver Canberra its first NRC title when they host Queensland Country at Viking Park in the grand final on Saturday.
After making the most of his Super Rugby lifeline at the Brumbies and kicking on with the Vikings, Hawera admits he couldn’t have dreamt of a better start to his n life.
“They [Brumbies] had seen a bit of footage but really didn’t know too much about me and just said a few guys are going for this spot and if you’re good enough we’ll give you a crack,” Hawera said.
“It all went pretty fast and one thing led to another and I was pretty happy with my Brumbies season and we’ve obviously done pretty well as a team at the Vikings.
“There a lot of guys playing footy in New Zealand that fall through the cracks, they tend to look at the younger guys straight out of high school and a few miss their opportunity.
“It gets pretty hard with so much talent over there, so I do consider myself pretty lucky to get picked up and get a crack in and I’m just stoked with how it’s all panned out.”
Hawera praised the Brumbies and Vikings’ culture as the secret to his success and backed his forward pack to bring a maiden NRC title to the capital on Saturday.
“It definitely comes back to the coaches and culture at the Brumbies, I knew from the first day it was a really good culture just from how hard we were training,” Hawera said.
“We’re pretty lucky at the Viking where we’ve only got one team feeding from the Brumbies, unlike Sydney and Brisbane who have to split their Super Rugby players.
“That is a big thing and all the clubs boys here have fit in really well, we all just get along and the culture has been awesome.”
Hawera will play second fiddle to Lealiifano next season but said he’s looking forward to working with 19-Test Wallaby who is on loan at Irish club Ulster.
“The biggest thing I’ve learnt this year is how hard you have to work to stay at this level and when I first got down here I was in contact with Christian a lot and we grew pretty close,” Hawera said.
“I’ll run the cattle while he’s away but when he gets back in mid-January he’ll slot straight back into that 10 role, I just have to keep working hard and put my best foot forward.”
Hawera hopes the stability of a two-year contract extension and his partner and Canberra Giants’ recruit Ngawai Eyles moving to Canberra will see him kick-on again in 2018.
New Zealand media have reported Hawera is on the Wallabies radar and the young playmaker said he wouldn’t knock back a chance to wear n gold.
“I’ve got a new home here in so I wouldn’t mind… a few doors have closed back home in New Zealand and I’m loving my footy here,” Hawera said.
“If that was to arise I’d be more than happy to give it a crack but you have to live here for three years so it’s still a couple of years before it’s even possible.”
NRC GRAND FINAL
Saturday: Canberra Vikings v Queensland Country at Viking Park, 7.30pm. Entry is free.