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Chiefs young gun compared to Kieran Read after stellar showing

By Ned Lester
Wallace Sititi with the ball in hand for the Chiefs. Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

The Chiefs opted to rotate their squad for their round seven fixture against Moana Pasifika, one of those changes being a starting debut to 21-year-old Wallace Sititi.

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The No. 8 has just a couple of Super Rugby caps to his name but ask Moana Pasifika and they’ll be the first to tell you he didn’t play like it.

The young gun contributed a game-high 17 carries for 94 running metres, two line breaks, three lineout takes and 10 tackles; three of which were dominant.

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His size, agility and hunger proved difficult for Moana to contain and impressed former All Black Justin Marshall, who said Sititi’s skill level was “absolutely amazing”.

“What really impressed me about Wallace Sititi’s performance was that it was a genuine No. 8 performance,” Marshall told The Breakdown. “It wasn’t the performance of a player that’s been shifted from six or seven and got an opportunity at eight or changed around simply because it had to fit the dynamic of the loose forward trio.

“He played the true style of a No. 8, he went off the back of the scrum hard, took on the defenders, used his pace. When he attacked players, he attacked them with power. Yes, he’s got a skillset; he’s got a great offload, he’s got work-rate which is key for a No. 8, but equally he just fulfilled the role. He didn’t try to do anything outside of the core role of a No. 8.

“When you think about the fact that, apart from Ardie (Savea) obviously – the World Player of the Year, so he goes alright – we’ve never really replaced Kieran Read who was genuine, out and out No. 8.

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“We never saw Kieran Read in another jersey because he was a No. 8. He, Sititi, is a No. 8.

“He’s a beast and he’s tough. He actually said that Moana Pasifika, they were tough, they were physical, he said they felt it out there but he loved it. He relished it.”

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Marshall’s comments were affirmed by The Breakdown panel, who were all equally impressed by the youngster’s performance.

Former Samoa international Taylah Johnson pointed to Sititi’s development at the Chiefs and the kind of expertise he’s been surrounded with as a potent recipe for success.

“I think he’s a product of his environment too,” Johnson added. “If you look at the loose forwards that he’s rubbing shoulders with.

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“We don’t often see Wallace Sititi, he now comes off the bench quite often but if you look at who he’s rubbing shoulders with, like the Luke Jacobson’s and the Samipeni Finau’s, he’s learning and he’s been around for a long time.

“From school, then he was in the New Zealand U20s but Clayton (McMillan) hasn’t put him out there too early, he’s let him grow and I really like that about that Chiefs environment. He’s a product of who he’s been working with and under Clayton.”

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