Crusaders centre Kieron Fonotia says that he’s looking forward to linking up with his new colleagues at the Ospreys later this year.
- Fonotia: "I pride myself on being a player who can break the line when attacking, as well as being strong defensively, I bring a bit of aggression"
- A regular for Crusaders in Super Rugby over last three years, Fonotia played in the 2014 Final
- Will link up with the Ospreys later this year
The 28-year old from Christchurch has signed with the region on a deal running until summer 2018 and will arrive in Ospreylia later this year.
A Super Rugby regular – and 2014 finalist – Fonotia is renowned in the southern hemisphere as an uncompromising and physical player, hard running and strong in defence.
Speaking after his move to the Liberty Stadium was confirmed, Fonotia said:
“I’m really excited about the change of environment and the challenge of going to Wales to play for the Ospreys.
“I’ve got a few friends who play up there and they all tell me that it will suit the way I play. Obviously I’ve got a job to do here first before I can think too hard about playing for the Ospreys, but I’m looking forward to it.
“I’ve had a look over the team and there’s pretty much the Wales forward pack, that’s pretty awesome for a back to play behind that, it should mean some go forward ball.
“I pride myself on being a player who can break the line when attacking, as well as being strong defensively, I bring a bit of aggression. Talking to my mates, the PRO12 is a physical competition, direct, and it will suit my game.”
Fonotia has been an almost constant fixture in the Crusaders backline in recent seasons, playing alongside some of the biggest names not only in New Zealand but in the world game. Having established himself at his homeland’s most successful province, he says that the experience has helped him to develop as a player.
“I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to play with some of the best rugby players in the world over the last few years and you do learn a lot off people like that” said Fonotia.
“I know that I see a lot more on the rugby field now than I used to because of the influence of some of these guys. I’ve learned heaps this last couple of years, and it’s important to understand that you should never stop learning. That’s the benefit of rubbing shoulders with some pretty sharp players. They teach you that if you stop working you’ll get overtaken.
“That’s the attitude I’ll bring with me to Wales. I want to keep learning in a new environment, to be the best I can and, hopefully, I can give something to the players already there to help them as well.”
Having taken a less than orthodox route to Super Rugby, Fonotia can provide a role model to players in the region who themselves have not been part of the development pathway.
“I sort of did the hard way I suppose!” he laughed.
“Before I got a Super Rugby contract I was a tiler by trade, until I was 21 or 22, and then I got a chance to play for Tasman in the ITM Cup. Off the back of that came the opportunity to play for the Crusaders development side and it went from there.
“With that background I feel that I really appreciate what it means to be a professional rugby player because I didn’t really enjoy what I was doing before. Playing for Crusaders and having the opportunity to join the Ospreys is far more preferable to leaving the house at 6am for a 12-hour shift. That makes me enjoy this career all the more.”