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Bay of Plenty speedster Emoni Narawa shifts from Blues to Chiefs

By Tom Vinicombe
Emoni Narawa. (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)

Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan lamented the fact that none of his wing options had stamped their mark in their jerseys last season but the arrival of former Blues outside back Emoni Narawa could change that.

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22-year-old Narawa has notched up seven appearances for the Blues throughout his two seasons with the club but has made the decision to head south and link up with McMillan, his former coach at the Steamers.

“I am really excited, coming into a new environment,” Narawa said. “Hopefully I can come in and put on the jersey and put my best foot forward.

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The panel of Ross Karl, Bryn Hall and James Parsons run their eyes over all the developments from the past week of rugby.
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The panel of Ross Karl, Bryn Hall and James Parsons run their eyes over all the developments from the past week of rugby.

“The culture at the Gallagher Chiefs has a pretty good reputation, so I am looking forward to that. I have worked with Clayton at the Bay and I love his style of footy and I am excited about working with him.”

The Fijian-born speedster was one of the top performers from the 2019 provincial season, which saw him snapped up by Leon MacDonald at the Blues.

Injuries halted his progress at Super Rugby level but the 22-year-old was still able to put in some memorable performances off the bench for the Auckland-based franchise.

With the Blues boasting deep outside back stocks, including the likes of Caleb Clarke, Mark Telea, Rieko Ioane, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Zarn Sullivan and Stephen Perofeta, Narawa will find it easier navigating his way into a starting spot for the Chiefs – especially given his ability to cover both wing and fullback.

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“Emoni is an exciting utility back who has been a key contributor for Bay of Plenty over the past couple of seasons,” said McMillan of his new signing. “He is blessed with an array of skills, and we believe our environment will give Emoni the confidence and freedom to showcase his talent. Above all he is a good young man who is highly motivated to contribute and take his game to another level.”

Narawa will be competing with the likes of Shaun Stevenson and Etene Nanai-Seturo for a spot on the wing while Damian McKenzie’s shift to Japan also opens up a spot in the No 15 jersey – although McMillan may opt for one of Kaleb Trask or Josh Ioane to take on those duties.

“It’s probably fair to say that the area where we’ve had the biggest scope to have movement in our squad has been in and around our outside backs,” McMillan told RugbyPass earlier this year regarding the upcoming 2022 season.

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“We had lots of guys that were more than adequate that did a great job for us, they’re safe, and what we’re just looking for is people who can potentially bring a little more influence through their performance and the way that they play. We’ve achieved that somewhat [through recruitment for 2022]. We’re happy with what we’ve got now.”

The Chiefs will name their full squad on Monday 22 November.

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