Much of the attention in the wake of the Highlanders’ 39-23 win over the Chiefs on Friday has been centred around the attacking exploits of Highlanders wing Jona Nareki.
The 23-year-old put in a man-of-the-match performance as he scored a hat-trick of tries, single-handedly set up another, ran for almost 200 metres, beat nine defenders and made five clean breaks in a scintillating attacking performance.
Nareki wasn’t the only wing to have caught the eye in that match, though, as Chiefs youngster Etene Nanai-Seturo put on a side-stepping clinic throughout the encounter.
The electric footwork of the 21-year-old, who has long been touted as a top-level prospect, was frequently sighted throughout the contest as he used his elusiveness to bolt past 14 players – the most defenders beaten by any player in any match this season.
Nanai-Seturo also finished the match with the highest running metres of any Chiefs player (90), but it was his agility that made him such a persistent threat with ball in hand for the Hamilton franchise.
It’s for that reason the All Blacks Sevens representative could become a crucial figure for the Chiefs as they look to end their worst losing run in their history, with Friday’s result pushing their winless streak to 10 matches.
If Clayton McMillan’s side are to secure their first victory since they beat the Waratahs exactly one year ago today, it’s difficult to imagine Nanai-Seturo won’t play a key role in his side’s success.
That’s the feeling among many fans too, plenty of whom took to Twitter to share their thoughts on how well Nanai-Seturo, who was the subject of a tug-of-war between New Zealand Rugby and the NRL’s Warriors in 2018, fared against the Highlanders.
RugbyPass columnist Michael Pulman was among those singing Nanai-Seturo’s praise on social media, labelling the young star’s performance as “super impressive”.
The level of intensity the Chiefs are showing is promising. Intent to play expansive and hammer down when playing under advantage is clear.
— Michael Pulman ????? (@realmikepulman) March 5, 2021
Others were simply in awe of Nanai-Seturo’s ability to dance around defenders at will, with one fan saying he was so agile that he “could step you in a phone booth”.
Nanai-Seturo could step you in a phone booth. He’s on ? #SuperRugbyAotearoa
— TP Pillay (@TP_Pillay) March 5, 2021
Nanai-Seturo can step. My goodness
— Vuyo (@dyan__carter) March 5, 2021
Nanai Seturo came with his dancing shoes #SuperRugbyAotearoa
— sir_Nerville? (@NervilleOdongo) March 5, 2021
Nanai Seturo is playing on ice.
— Eric kioko (@Kiks29) March 5, 2021
Nanai-Seturo the hot stepper #SuperRugbyAotearoa
— Trent (@TrentKyle) March 5, 2021
Even the All Blacks Sevens, who Nanai-Seturo has played 61 times for in the World Sevens Series and was part of the team’s gold medal-winning side at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, got in on the action on social media.
?? Etene Nanai-Seturo letting loose with those fancy feet we love to see so much of in the Sevens!
— All Blacks Sevens (@AllBlacks7s) March 5, 2021
The Chiefs’ quest to end their torrid run of results will only get tougher next week when they travel to Christchurch to face the Crusaders, but one would expect the reigning champions will be on high alert to the danger Nanai-Seturo poses.
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