'He was desperate': The legacy Fekitoa is driven to leave at Wasps
Lee Blackett has enthusiastically explained that ex-All Blacks midfielder Malakai Fekitoa is desperate to end his stint at Wasps as positively as possible before he links up with Irish province Munster next season.
Injuries have hugely restricted the soon-to-be 30-year-old’s involvement this term but so determined is he to leave on a high after three seasons at the club, he sought out his coach last week and asked could he make a return in a low-profile Premiership Cup game.
Fekitoa dislocated his shoulder in the opening league match of the season last September and after working his way back to fitness to return for two more Premiership games following a four-month layoff, he then suffered an early February injury that further set him back.
Wasps had targetted his latest comeback for this Saturday’s Premiership game at home to Newcastle but so keen was the powerhouse to get back into action that he approach Blackett last week asking could he play with the kids at Sale in the Premiership Cup.
This he did, coming off the bench for the closing half-hour and his coach now can’t wait for him to tackle the end-of-season run-in.
“Malakai is heavily driven to leave a legacy at the club,” enthused Blackett when asked by RugbyPass how important it was for soon-to-leave players like Fekitoa to do their best to depart having given their all. “He is the one last week that came to me at the start of the week and asked to play. Our aim was for him to play this weekend’s game but he just wanted to go a week early, he was desperate.
“We were looking at getting a couple of weeks’ training in him but he wanted to play last week. He is desperate to help the boys, that is how he views it, to get out there and help get wins and I have got the utmost respect for Mala.
“Everything with Mala is about the team. He never takes anything personally. Everything he does is for his teammates so he is desperate to end well. I know when he had his last little injury he was so gutted because he wants to end his Wasps career on a high.”
Born in Tonga, Fekitoa made his name with the All Blacks but he has since secured his eligibility to play at Test level for his native country after playing for them in last June’s Olympic sevens qualifier in Monaco. He kept busy during his latest layoff drawing great awareness to the plight of the island nation following the tsunami disaster that struck in mid-January.
“It’s brilliant,” added the Wasps boss when asked about how selfless Fekitoa has been to get the message out that Tonga needs every help it can get. “What Mala went through with his family and everyone in Tonga, for him to help in the way he has is a credit to Mala. He should be really proud of what he has done.”
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