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New Zealand-born utility back wants No. 12 jersey at Brumbies

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

New Zealand-born centre Ollie Sapsford has set his sights on the No. 12 jersey at the ACT Brumbies ahead of the new Super Rugby campaign.

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The Brumbies have been one of the more consistent Super Rugby sides on either side of the Tasman for quite some time now.

After winning the Super Rugby AU final against the Queensland Reds in 2020, the Brumbies returned to the big dance a year later before facing New Zealand for the first time in a couple of years.

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In last year’s Super Rugby Pacific season, the Brumbies fell agonisingly short of another final – losing eventual runners-up the Blues 20-19 in Auckland.

It was in that game that a rising star, who has a unique story, received his first opportunity to start a Super Rugby match.

Utility back Ollie Sapsford started at outside centre for the famous Australian franchise after Len Ikitau was suspended.

After getting a taste of first XV rugby with the Brumbies, Sapsford admitted that he’s “had my eyes” on the No. 12 jersey following Irae Simone’s departure.

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“I had my eyes (on the 12 jersey) last year. I was really lucky to work ‘E’ when he was here and he taught me a lot,” Sapsford said.

“He’s a good bloke and have an exceptional year last year.

“I learnt a lot from him and Len (Ikitau), who I’m looking forward to keep learning from, but I’d be lying if I said my eyes weren’t on it.

“It’s all about building from last year. I really enjoyed my first year here, and ticked off a lot of goals I’ve been working towards.

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“We didn’t get the result (last year) and then I went back to NZ to carry on with Mitre 10 so I didn’t get to reflect until I came eyehere in December.

“I was really proud (to start in the semi) of the moment. It was unfortunate what happened to Len the week before but I have been waiting for my opportunity and it came.

“I was really excited and happy with how it all went but this year is another year and I just want to keep building from where we left off.”

The Brumbies will also be without Wallabies Tom Banks. Folau Fainga’a and Scott Sio, who all left the club after last year’s Super Rugby campaign.

But these departures will also lead to opportunities for others – including Sapsford.

As reported by the Canberra Times, New Zealand-born Sapsford was playing Aussie Rules in Western Australia when he decided to chase his rugby dream once again.

After playing for Hawks Bay in the provincial competition in New Zealand, as well as being a contracted player with the All Blacks Sevens team, the 27-year-old started his first Super Rugby match last year.

“Last year we were quite fortunate to have the same players on the field week-in, week-out,” assistant coach Rob Seib said.

“Guys like Ollie (Sapsford) on the fringe probably didn’t get the minutes they would’ve liked so I know with more opportunity he’s going to excel.

“He’s someone who has impressed with the condition he’s come back from pre-season. He’s hitting PBs, decision-making is really sharp and he’s someone in the group that can impress if given the opportunity.”

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