If you hadn’t heard yet, the legendary Rupeni Caucau is back playing where it all started for him, at Northland in New Zealand provincial rugby. He has had two outings for the Taniwha, and showed glimpses of his brilliance on both occasions.
Back in New Zealand after a fairly low key stint at Toulouse in France, Caucau is looking and feeling in better shape that he has for a while. He’s reportedly weighing in at just 108kg, and still has elements of that explosive acceleration that made him one of the most lethal finishers in the game.
He missed the opening round of the ITM Cup but in week two he played on the wing against Southland, and as you can see at the beginning of this video, he almost set up two tries, had it not been for some good defence and an unfortunate forward pass.
Against North Harbour this past weekend he combined with the brilliant Rene Ranger, who yet again showed what an incredible player he is all over the park. Ranger made the turnover, then set off after a quick tap and gave 33-year-old Caucau an easy stroll in from 60m out.
His second important touch was part of a lovely Northland try that was finished by their speedy fullback Whiria Meltzer. A neat little offload in the tackle followed, and late in the first half he scored his second try with some trademark power, balance and acceleration.
Northland and North Harbour drew 33-33 after a tense finish that included a sending off and a sin-binning. We’ll follow Rupeni’s progress and keep you updated throughout the season.
The Crowd Goes Wild spoke to him a few weeks back, touching on how good he feels physically, as well as featuring some classic clips of him in action. You can view that on page two
Great chat with the big man ahead of the ITM Cup season with the Northland Taniwhas.
Credit: The Crowd Goes Wild & ttrugbyvids