The Press

Tamanivalu chased by Chiefs

- RICHARD KNOWLER

Seta Tamanivalu has fielded calls from Chiefs coach-in-waiting Colin Cooper about a move back to Hamilton, but the Crusaders might want to have something to say about that.

Tamanivalu, who will start on the Crusaders’ left wing for their Super Rugby quarterfin­al match against the Highlander­s on Saturday night, has yet to announce whether he will extend his one-year stay in Christchur­ch, return to the Chiefs side he represente­d in the 2015-16 seasons or accept an offer from an overseas club.

Cooper, who replaces departing Chiefs coach Dave Rennie next year, has coached Tamanivalu at Taranaki and knows how he rolls.

Three-test All Black Tamanivalu confirmed Cooper had spoken to him on the phone, saying the conversati­ons were amicable.

‘‘He is a good fellow, doesn’t put pressure on anyone and just tells you what he wants,’’ Tamanivalu said.

‘‘He wants you to be happy about your decision, doesn’t push you. Whether I will move or stay, I will make the decision next week.’’

If Tamanivalu moved to the Chiefs there would be no chance of him linking with All Blacks and Highlander­s wing Waisake Naholo, another player chased by Cooper

On Friday Naholo announced he would stay at the Highlander­s.

Tamanivalu and Naholo are mates, having previously worked together as labourers on a building site in Taranaki, and won an ITM Cup title with the provincial team under Cooper. They also played sevens together before Naholo got a contract with the Blues and then transferre­d to the Highlander­s.

Their friendship has endured, with Tamanivalu injecting some humour into his appraisal of Naholo’s skills on the work sites.

‘‘He was all good … He was on the phone the whole time, so he basically did nothing,’’ Tamanivalu cackled.

There seems little doubt the Crusaders will want to keep Tamanivalu on their books. He has made 12 appearance­s this season, 11 on the right wing.

Appearance­s in the midfield for the All Blacks last year suggested Tamanivalu would get more time there at the Crusaders, but Jack Goodhue has been preferred as the starting centre and Ryan Crotty, Tim Bateman and David Havili have been options at second fiveeighth­s.

Meanwhile, alarms could scream loud and long among the Crusaders’ back three of Israel Dagg, David Havili and Dagg if Highlander­s halfback Aaron Smith is able to smack his long grubbers down the short side in the quarterfin­al, giving Naholo something to chase down in space.

The task of offloading in the wet weather might be simple if the coaches just demand such risky manoeuvres be shelved in the wet.

The big Tamanivalu, the Crusaders’ top offloader this year, said he is prepared to listen to their advice – just as he does to his young centre Goodhue, who was invited to train with the All Blacks during the recent test series against the British and Irish Lions.

‘‘He makes it easier for the wings to defend the outside channel, the sort of guy who is smart,’’ Tamanivalu said in reference to Goodhue. ‘‘Able to make decisions late but be real good at it – sort of like Conrad (former test centre Conrad Smith) used to offer the All Blacks.’’

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Seta Tamanivalu

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