August 13, 2021
Rob Valetini says playing at No.8 will not be easy but is determined to give his best against the All Blacks in tomorrow’s second Bledisloe clash.
Valetini, who shares links to Fiji has been picked ahead of bigger and heavier-hitting players.He recalls playing the game of “Bull Rush” that kids used to play with young bodies dashing from one boundary to another trying to avoid the “in” person in the middle who was attempting to tag or tackle as many as possible.
“We played a lot of Bull Rush. I was the youngest and my brothers were tough on me, called me the little whinger,” Valetini told Rugby Australia media with a broad grin.
“I was bullied in a good way. You toughen up and come to a point where you handle it and give it back.”
“You don’t tell your parents. You sort that brother stuff out yourself.”
The 22-year-old brought up the “fight fire-with-fire" line which the All Blacks will see as a red rag.
Last weekend was the first taste of the hostile Eden Park cauldron for Valetini and a crop of other young Wallabies like Tate McDermott, Noah Lolesio and Darcy Swain.
“We can’t wait 20 minutes into the game to start playing,” Valetini said.
He was relishing the chance to be back in the same full-house setting just seven days later.
“Just to experience it at Eden Park, play in front of their fans and know we can score tries is an advantage going into this next Test.”
“We dipped our toes in (last week). This time we have to take control, beat them to the punch,” he said.
Valetini has had to learn his lessons so he can make 113kg of Fijian muscle count like keen judges have been predicting for years.
He had to learn to push harder at training, not just survive. He had to be more consistent and playing No.8 means getting more hands on the ball more than in last weekend’s role at blindside flanker.
“The opportunity to get in someone’s face and drive them backwards...there’s no better feeling,” Valetini said.
This is exactly where Valetini has always wanted to be. It’s where his father Manueli always wanted to be but was cruelly denied in Fiji.
The Wallabies vs All Blacks second Bledisloe match will take place at 7.05pm.
By Romeka Romena