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Friday Jan 12, 2018

Proof that Lima Sopoaga leaving is a massive loss to New Zealand rugby

Proof that Lima Sopoaga leaving is a massive loss to New Zealand rugby
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Highly talented All Black fly half Lima Sopoaga will leave New Zealand at the end of the coming season to join Wasps. Following Aaron Cruden, this makes him the second world class All Black 10 to leave for the greener financial pastures of Europe in the last 12 months. 

Sopoaga follows former Chiefs and All Black fly half Aaron Cruden, who is playing his first season with Montpellier. In fact, the All Blacks have lost a few players as of late, with other names including Steven Luatua, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Charlie Faumuina, and George Moala.

One could argue that these players were being considered less and less by the selectors, or perhaps were merely second or even third-choice All Blacks. However, Steve Hansen will no doubt be frustrated with the loss of any experience in the build-up to the 2019 World Cup, particularly now with the loss of both Cruden and Sopoaga. 

There’s no doubt who the first choice number ten is but, as we’ve seen before, you’re just one injury away.

The 16-cap All Black Sopoaga had cemented his role as the second choice behind Beauden Barrett, which must make the decision to leave that much more difficult.

New Zealand do still have a stockpile of weapons though, with both Richie Mo’unga and Damien McKenzie capable if called up.

In the end, what mattered most – alongside the reported £1.5 million three year deal – was family, and it seems Sopoaga is fine with that.

“It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make but is one I’m at peace with. I’d like to thank the Highlanders, All Blacks, Southland and Wellington for the awesome experiences you have provided me with over the years.

“So here’s to 2018 one last roll of the dice before I head off to experience life on the other side of the world. I’m ready.”

Sopoaga will leave after the coming Super Rugby season and will therefore be removed from World Cup contention. The move will cause ripples with Wasps as the question now becomes what to do with mercurial star Danny Cipriani.

As this highlight video shows, Wasps fans should be thrilled with their latest signing.

credit: therugbychannel

9 Comments

  •  rugbydump
    rugbydump

    If the video wasn't proof that he's a quality player, then obviously it's a subjective thing. There aren't many second or third choice guys on his level right now.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Tbf I wasn't actually having a go at the clickbait title, not intentionally anyway, I was more highlighting the ridiculousness of MZ depth, you guys have 5 'Super teams'... So that's a minimum of 5 fly halves, chances are all have a second fly half, so that's 10 blokes and generally speking I'd guess that at least 60% of them probably have international qualities.... No experience sure, but quality definitely...

    Reply
  •  thefrontrow
    thefrontrow

    But if our first choice Barret gets injured or sent home, maybe for some airport bathroom shenanigans or something (it is Japan after all), then NZ don't have that much quality international experience at number 10. The Lions brought down some pretty sharp 10s that often outplayed ours and (pretty much) took the series. Agree about an over the top headline though.

    Reply
  •  ruckinmaul
    ruckinmaul

    Yeah mate, fairly agree with you. the forwards loss the battle upfront against half of the teams in Aviva Premiership. You can't accept that. Never a champion material.

    Reply
  •  joeythelemur
    joeythelemur

    Rugbydump, you are better than the clickbaity title. It's newsworthy that he's leaving, but "proof of a massive loss" is definitely overstating it. Dr G has it bang on.

    Reply
  •  thefrontrow
    thefrontrow

    This is a considerable loss for my mighty Highlanders. But good for Sops and the Wasps, I'll be following every game. Hope it works out. Fun Trivia: that's now two Highlanders that have also played for Wasps (Haskell, Sopoaga).

    Reply
  •  facepalm
    facepalm

    "The move will cause ripples with Wasps as the question now becomes what to do with mercurial star Danny Cipriani." The way understand it, Cipriani is expected to move to France next season as he's accepted he's not going to play for England. I guess this makes the decision for him.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    This is dreadful, horrible depressing news! Off the top of my head I'd say that gives NZ only 5-6 world class 10's to choose from now? This sort of damaging impact to their depth must end!

    Reply
  •  brit50
    brit50

    Wasps already have a superb backline. What they need are quality forward. Oh and a coach.

    Reply

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