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Rapid rise: Chiefs’ Wallace Sititi goes ‘to another level’ against Canes

By Finn Morton
Chiefs' Wallace Sititi runs with the ball in hand during the Super Rugby Pacific semi-final match between the Wellington Hurricanes and Waikato Chiefs at Sky Stadium in Wellington on June 15, 2024. (Photo by Grant Down / AFP) (Photo by GRANT DOWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Whether you support the Chiefs, Hurricanes or any other Super Rugby Pacific franchise, all fans will almost unanimously agree that Wallace Sititi was the star of the show this week. At just 21, Sititi had commentators singing his praises after a masterful display in the second semi-final.

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Sititi has played 12 matches for the Chiefs so far this season, including eight starts in the No. 8 jumper. Packing down alongside All Blacks Luke Jacobson and Samipeni Finau may seem like a daunting task, but the youngster has done more than just fit in.

All Blacks midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown described Sititi as the Chiefs’ “find of the year” on SENZ earlier this week, and the emerging talent out of Auckland backed up that claim with a Player of the Match display in the 30-19 win over the Hurricanes.

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The Chiefs’ 11-point win down in the nation’s capital may have been their best team performance of the year, but Sititi was a class above the rest. With 17 carries for 146 metres, and 12 tackles on the defensive side of the ball, it’s hard to argue with the facts.

“When you’re talking about the calibre of loose forwards that were out there, and plenty of them in-form, for such a young player to be able to step up,” former All Black Justin Marshall said on Sky Sport NZ’s post-game coverage.

“He was really powerful off the scrum, he carried hard, ran hard all day (and) gave the Chiefs the momentum and the go forward they needed.

“Yes, some spectacular momentums; linebreaks, ability with speed when he gets into space to make a difference… but in general, when you’ve got the balance right – scrum hard, work hard, d your core role, tackle hard, physical – a genuine, classic number eight performance.

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“Outstanding from the young man. Wallace Sititi, superb.”

There were a few moments of brilliance from Sititi that can’t be shown in the scoresheet. While the 145+ running metres paints a pretty clear picture of dominance, skill and execution, it doesn’t quite tell the full story.

Early in the match, Sititi played a leading role in the Chiefs’ strong start which seemed to catch the Hurricanes and their fans in a state of shock. The No. 8 broke up the field before passing the ball off to captain Luke Jacobson, who in turn sent Cortez Ratima over for the team’s second try.

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That score was only possible because of the loose forward’s effort off the ball and skill to make the most of the opportunity. Sideline commentator Taylah Johnson immediately highlighted Sititi’s effort by referencing his Rookie of the Year honour.

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Much later in the match, Sititi came within a few metres of scoring a decisive runaway try from an intercept but was caught by a covering Hurricanes defender. The Chiefs still scored, though, with replacement Daniel Rona touching down along the left sideline.

While a try would’ve been the icing on the cake for the North Harbour backrower, it wasn’t to be. There might not be a stat for almost scoring, or doing most of the work in the leadup to a five-pointer, but Sititi still made a meaningful impact on a historic night at the Cake Tin.

“He’s been going pretty good since he came on and he took it to another level,” captain Luke Jacobson said post-game. “He’s a special kid, he’s a huge future.”

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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Comments

2 Comments
a
andy 31 days ago

Hurricanes fan
Sititi awesome D Mac my man of match his control was unreal and his tackling

T
T-Bone 32 days ago

Hope he plays the English
They will hit Wallace and vomit

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Mzilikazi 5 hours ago
Daugunu salvo shows why Wallabies work-rate is everything to Schmidt

Nice article, Brett, and good to be writing about a second win. I think Georgia will be far more testing. Tbh, I have not looked at their touring squad, but at full strength they are a far better and more dangerous team than they were at RWC France. They would have been disappointed they did not perform to full potential there. I think that the WB’s under Joe Schmidt have started soundly. Recovery from a serious setback always takes time. And the Jones era was that and more. I think the arrival of Les Kiss back to his native Qld. is a very positive factor, and the fact that he and Schmidt know each other well is a help. Players I think are much improved this year: Daugunu, who has blossomed with the Rebels, so credit to the coaching unit down there. Am pleased he will come back to the Reds. McReight is said to have put on up to 7 kgs since last season. His work rate has always been good, but it is his carrying into contact that has gone up. Now makes those critical one or two metres post contact very often. Is conceding fewer penalties now as his game matures. Rob Valetini was good last year, but is now a greater force this one. A really punishing ball carrier. Hunter Paisami is now a more controlled player. His carrying into contact is very impressive for an 80 kg man. Interestingly, if you saw Nick Bishops latest article, he has a team for RC with Kerevi at 12. Also Skelton in the team. Not sure if there will be o’seas players as early as RC though….but need them in by the EYOT games.

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