Ex-All Blacks midfielder Malakai Fekitoa has been hailed for his quick return to form at Wasps following the 16-week layoff with the groin injury that cost him a 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership final appearance. The New Zealander, who also decided to undergo shoulder surgery while sidelined with the groin issue sustained when scoring against Bristol in the league semi-final, made his comeback in the January 31 Premiership loss to Harlequins.
He also started in the follow-up home defeat to Northampton before being a major reason why last Sunday Wasps reversed their recent run with a win at Worcester.
The 28-year-old, who arrived at Wasps last season via Toulon after calling time on his 24-cap All Blacks career, was thrust straight back into the mix by Lee Blackett due to Paolo Odogwu getting called up to the England Six Nations squad.
The Wasps coach has been thrilled with what he has seen in recent weeks while he has also commended Fekitoa for the mentoring role he adopted during his injury layoff to help younger players at the Premiership club.
“In an ideal world we probably would put him on the bench, just gave him a little bit of time and gradually brought him back, but with Paolo going with England he has come straight back in and I was delighted with him last weekend.
You can see how much that try meant to @tomwillis12
On a tough weekend for the Willis Family, the forward helped seal an important win for @WaspsRugby with this excellent try ?#GallagherPrem highlights and full match replay ?? https://t.co/Ux2FQlx6d2 pic.twitter.com/SFPuX2p8mN
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) February 15, 2021
“Sometimes you just need those key figures in your team, a talisman I would probably say, someone to go to for us. Malakai gives us that and it’s not just one side of the ball, it’s both sides. Look at the involvements in two tries last week. Massive involvements in them and currently on the other side of the ball, every game he almost has a highlights reel so defensively he is putting in some great shots.
“We are really pleased with how Malakai is doing but one thing he probably doesn’t get enough credit for is what he does off the field. He is someone within the set-up that constantly tries to pick things up.
“It’s rare you see this. Joe Launchbury at the moment is working with a few of the younger guys and when Malakai was injured he put a lot of time in with Paolo, speaking a lot with Sam Spink, the young 13s within the group. Malakai does a lot of stuff like that behind the scenes. He is brilliant for the younger players.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 18, 2021
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