Another Fijian has secured a Super Rugby Contract for 2016; Manawatu Turbo’s fullback Semisi Masirewa is headed to Australia.
The Western Force in Perth have signed him for two seasons, confident he will recover from his broken ankle in plenty of time.
His cast is due to be removed in about four weeks time.
A condition of the 2-year deals in Australia is that he must play for one of the Australian National Rugby Competition teams when Super Rugby finishes, possibly the Perth Spirit.
Masirewa, 23, felt the Turbos had given him his break after things had stalled at Waikato and he will miss Manawatu.
“I really wanted to come back; I love this Manawatu union,” he said. “If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be going this far.”
Three years ago he had gone north to Morrinsville to join uncle and former NZ sevens player Waisake Masirewa and his cousins in Waikato. Semisi left Feilding High School as a centre and wasn’t taken up by Manawatu at the time. He did play 11 ITM Cup games for Waikato.
Manawatu coach Jason O’Halloran brought him back last year as a loan player in mid-season from the Waikato Development XV.
O’Halloran pointed out Masirewa, in match statistics this year, was ahead of Nehe Milner-Skudder’s stats at a comparable time last season, Masirewa having benefited from wearing Milner-Skudder’s 15 jersey.
O’Halloran also hinted that New Zealand Super Rugby franchises have let a chance slip by with Masirewa, who was cutting up on attack for Manawatu this season before his injury three games from the end of the season.
“I was kind of expecting that it would affect my selection,” Masirewa said. “They were pretty interested before this injury happened.”
The ankle damage happened six minutes into the game against Southland at Invercargill. He also tore a ligament and had a screw inserted to stabilise the ankle.
He expects to be back training late in December or early January.
Masirewa said he had had a call from the Chiefs, but it was only for the group outside the wider training group. He said the Hurricanes and Highlanders were only interested in wider-training-group roles.
“The Force offered me a full contract so I might as well take it.”
He has never travelled to Australia and as a single man he will be going there alone.
Masirewa is from Taveuni, the garden island in Fiji. He came to Wanganui High School on a scholarship in 2010 and after a year embarked on the well-trodden path to Feilding High School as an 18-year-old second-year seventh-former on another scholarship.
His father died while he was at Feilding and his mother and three siblings live in Taveuni, in the village of Savusavu. He supports them and will travel home to see them before Christmas.
“I have got to look after my family,” he said. “I help them with whatever they need.”
Masirewa still rated 13th in the ITM Cup for clean breaks (with 14) after playing only six full games. He was seventh in defenders beaten (38), had 84 carries and ran 596 metres to be among the leaders in both categories.