Big Asofa-Solomona sparkles on de­but

The Dominion Post - - Sport - DAVID LONG

One of the suc­cesses of the Ki­wis’ 38-8 win over Satur­day night was that they were able to blood four new play­ers for what lies ahead.

Brad Takairangi, Nel­son Aso­faSolomona, Isaac Liu and Danny Levi all got to make their test de­buts in what ended up be­ing a com­fort­able vic­tory for New Zealand.

With big games com­ing up, par­tic­u­larly a po­ten­tial semi­fi­nal show­down against Eng­land, get­ting these play­ers up to speed was im­por­tant as the Ki­wis go through the pool stage of the World Cup.

Par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive was Asofa-Solomona from the Storm.

With­out Ja­son Tau­malolo, the Ki­wis need a big for­ward who can smash his way up field and Aso­faSolomona is just that, car­ry­ing the ball for an im­pres­sive 180 me­tres dur­ing his 41 min­utes on the field.

Only full­back Roger Tuiv­asaSheck, with 202 me­tres, made more ground than Asofa-Solomona.

He also scored a try in the 72nd minute, so as de­buts go, it wasn’t a bad one.

‘‘It felt re­ally good to put the jer­sey on with the boys and to get the re­sult was the ic­ing on the cake,’’ Asofa-Solomona said.

‘‘It’s an hon­our to rep­re­sent your coun­try. It’s se­cond to none, you’ve got club level and then this is the pin­na­cle for us.’’

The Welling­ton born 21-year-old made a strong run from his first touch of the ball, com­ing on for Martin Tau­pau in the 14th minute and Asofa-Solomona said his plan was to make an im­pact as soon as pos­si­ble.

‘‘For ev­ery bench player that’s the job,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re called sparkies, be­cause you’re sup­posed to come on and spark up the game for the boys.’’

‘‘Not just go through the mo­tions, but to try to make a dif­fer­ence and that’s what I tried to do.’’

De­spite Asofa-Solomona’s strong pres­ence, it was un­til the se­cond half where the Ki­wis were able to show their dom­i­nance.

So what changed be­tween the two 40-minute pe­ri­ods?

‘‘We made a lot of er­rors in the first half and we lim­ited that in the se­cond half,’’ Asofa-Solomona said.

‘‘That re­ally helped us get on the front foot and we starved Samoa of pos­ses­sion, which helped us and I felt like we did that bet­ter in the se­cond half.

‘‘It’s our first game, so it’s al­ways go­ing to be a bit rusty. We’re go­ing to have to look at the video and see the lit­tle things we can im­prove on.’’

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