Fetu'u Vainikolo

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Fetu’u Vainikolo
ST vs Connacht 2012 03.JPG
Full name Fetu'u Moana Vainikolo
Date of birth (1985-01-30) 30 January 1985 (age 29)
Place of birth Tofoa, Tonga
Height 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight 95 kg (14 st 13 lb)
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Wing
Provincial/State sides
Years Club / team Caps (points)
2007–2008
2009–2010
2011–2013
2013–
Northland
Otago
Connacht
Exeter
22
15
28
2
(50)
(5)
(30)
(5)
Super Rugby
Years Club / team Caps (points)
2008–2010 Highlanders 37 (65)
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
2011– Tonga 9 (35)

Fetu'u Moana Vainikolo (born 30 January 1985 in Tofoa, Tonga) is a Tongan Rugby Union player. Noted for his explosive ball-carrying ability, he represented the Highlanders in the Super 14 competition between 2008 and 2010. In season 2011–12 Vainikolo moved to Galway, Ireland side Connacht Rugby. He left at the end of his 2-year contract in the summer of 2013 to join English Aviva Premiership side Exeter Chiefs on a two-year deal.[1]

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Born in Tonga, Vainikolo's family moved to New Zealand in 1997 when he was 12. He moved through rugby age group levels in Auckland before moving to the Wellsford club in Northland in 2007.

Provincial Rugby[edit]

He made an explosive debut in the 2007 Air New Zealand Cup, scoring 5 tries in just 10 matches to earn himself a Super Rugby contract. He repeated the feat with another 5 tries in 2008.

Vainikolo transferred to Otago to join many of his Highlanders teammates for the 2009 Air New Zealand Cup. However, he was unable to duplicate his success for Northland, missing much of 2009 through injury and then struggling with poor form throughout the 2010 ITM Cup.

Super Rugby[edit]

On the heels of his success with Northland, Vainikolo was drafted into the Highlanders squad for the 2008 Super 14 season. While the team endured a difficult campaign, Vainikolo stood out as an offensive weapon, finishing 3rd in the entire competition with 6 tries including several of the highlight-reel variety.

In the 2009 Super 14 season, Vainikolo struggled to repeat his first-year success, scoring only 2 tries and coming into increased criticism for his defensive play, splitting starts with the more reliable Kendrick Lynn. In 2010, he started the season sharing playing time with James Paterson, but started the last 7 games of the year and finished with 5 tries to co-lead the club along with Israel Dagg.

Concerns about his all-around game and poor form during the 2010 ITM Cup saw Vainikolo left off the Highlanders main squad for the 2011 Super 15 season, although he was included in the team's wider training group.

Connacht Rugby[edit]

On the conclusion of Tonga's participation at the 2011 Rugby World Cup Vainikolo joined Irish province Connacht for the 2011–2012 season.[2][3]

Having missed pre-season and the first two months of the RaboDirectPro12 season, Vainikolo struggled to establish himself in the starting XV. Gradually as he has settled and his performances improved as his confidence grew he has established himself as a key component in the Connacht attack. He is most notable for his eagerness to get involved, frequently coming infield to make a key tackle or to help clear out a ruck.

After 14 Connacht appearances in 2011–12 between Pro12 & Heineken Cup and 3 league tries, season 2012–13 held much promise for the fan favorite Tongan.

He scored a vital try against Irish Rivals Leinster Rugby, in a Pro 12 derby to help connacht gain a 34–6 win over the European champions.[4] Vainikolo ran 50 metre's to score a crucial try as Connacht beat French giants Biarritz in the Heineken Cup. He started in all six of Connachts Heineken Cup games, and featured in seventeen of Connacht's twenty two Pro12 games.[5]

Exeter Chiefs[edit]

Exeter Chiefs announced on their official website on 9 May 2013 that Vainikolo will be joining the Chiefs on a two year deal.[1] Vainikolo scored a try on his competitive debut for the Chiefs during a 44-29 victory over Cardiff Blues in the Heineken Cup.[6]

International Representation[edit]

RWC 2011[edit]

Vainikolo was selected in the Tongan World Cup squad on 8 August,[7] and made his test debut on 13 August 2011 against Fiji in a 27–12 loss.[8] His second appearance came one week later with a starting place in Tonga's 32–20 win against Fiji at Churchill Park, Lautoka in which he scored his first try for Tonga.[9]

At RWC 2011 his first World Cup outing was a starting place in Tonga's 25–20 loss to Canada,[10] his second appearance came against Japan in which he scored Tonga's third try in a 31–18 group match. win[11][12]

2012-present[edit]

Fetu'u was called into the Tongan 2012 IRB Pacific Nations Cup squad, which is being hosted by Japan and Fiji in June 2012.[13][14]

He scored two tries in the first match of the 2013 IRB Pacific Nations Cup which Tonga beat Japan 27–17 on 25 May 2013.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Stevens, Mark. "Vainikolo Joins The Chiefs". Exeter Chiefs. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  2. ^ Irish Times – Connacht sign winger Vainikolo http://www.irishtimes.com/sports/rugby/2011/0406/1224294076375.html
  3. ^ ESPNScrum.com – Connacht sign Highlanders ace http://www.espnscrum.com/statsguru/rugby/story/137784.html
  4. ^ http://www.rabodirectpro12.com/teams/connacht/squad.php?player=73760&includeref=dynamic
  5. ^ http://www.itsrugby.co.uk/player-9987.html
  6. ^ "Heineken Cup: Exeter Chiefs 44-29 Cardiff Blues". BBC Sport. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  7. ^ RugbyWorldCup.com – Tonga unveil World Cup squad http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/home/news/newsid=52765.html
  8. ^ ESPNScrum.com – Match Stats Fiji v Tonga 13/08/11- http://www.espnscrum.com/statsguru/rugby/match/144576.html
  9. ^ ESPNScrum.com – Match Stats Tonga V Fiji 19/08/11 – http://www.espnscrum.com/statsguru/rugby/match/144577.html
  10. ^ RugbyWorldCup.com – Tongan overhaul for new-look Canada's debut http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/home/teams/team=47/news/newsid=2050276.html
  11. ^ Guardian Match Report – RWC2011 Tonga V Japan http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2011/sep/21/rugby-world-cup-tonga-japan
  12. ^ Match Highlights RWC2011 Tonga v Japan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkKYH-UjtZ4
  13. ^ 'Ikale Tahi Team for PACIFIC NATIONS CUP 2012 – 23/05/12 http://www.pmo.gov.to/news-today/press-releases/3776-ikale-tahi-team-for-pacific-nations-cup-2012
  14. ^ Vainikolo called into Tongan squad – 23/05/12 http://www.connachtrugby.ie/2012052382850/vainikolo-called-into-tongan-squad

External links[edit]