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David Havili thrusts himself back into All Blacks contention with hat-trick in injury return

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Evan Barnes/Getty Images)

It had been little more than two months since New Zealand’s forgotten man David Havili last took to the playing field since fracturing his thumb midway through the Super Rugby Aotearoa season.


Prior to that, the three-test All Black underwent emergency bowel surgery during the pre-COVID Super Rugby campaign, leaving his All Blacks aspirations in tatters despite his glittering early season form.

However, the 25-year-old has put his hat firmly in the ring for an international call-up as the All Blacks prepare for a two-month spell in Australia for the Rugby Championship, returning to competitive action in fine form for Tasman on Saturday.

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The Aussie Rugby Show | Episode 19
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The Aussie Rugby Show | Episode 19

Named to start at fullback for the Mako in a top-of-the-table clash against Waikato in Nelson, captain Havili bagged a hat-trick of tries as his side maintained their unbeaten start to the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup with a 34-17 victory.

The trio of tries is a timely reminder for the All Blacks selectors that Havili hasn’t lost the touch of magic that made him one of Super Rugby’s best players before the competition was shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Capable of covering the midfield and at first-five, his versatility also wouldn’t go amiss, especially given Crusaders utility Braydon Ennor, who was named in Ian Foster’s 35-man squad earlier this month, has been ruled out for the season with an ACL injury.

That has left a vacant spot to be filled in the national set-up, and while the rapidly-recovering Ngani Laumape looms as an automatic choice to take Ennor’s place, it would come as a surprise if Havili was excluded from the 11 additional players expected to accompany the All Blacks to Australia.


Even more so considering the way in which he returned for the Mako, who now sit four points clear at the top of the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership table and are yet to taste defeat since October 2018.

Making onlookers sit up and take notice with an intercept from inside his own 22 within the first eight minutes, Havili cantered 80 metres downfield to open the scoring, despite the best covering efforts of Chiefs flyer Bailyn Sullivan.

That was a popular try among the Tasman faithful, but things only got better in the second half when Havili crashed over following some solid build-up play by his forward pack.


Leaving Waikato fullback Liam Coombes-Fabling clutching at thin air with a right-foot step, Havili had enough momentum to carry second-five Louis Rogers over the tryline with him to secure a brace.

Havili then showed off his good support play and tidy footwork to hang off the shoulder of Alex Nankivell and outpace Coombes-Fabling and Quinn Tupaea from 30 metres out to score his third try in the right-hand corner with just over 10 minutes to play.

With two Bledisloe Cup fixtures to be staged in New Zealand over the next three weeks, there is still plenty of time for Havili to continue to stamp his authority on the Mitre 10 Cup before the All Blacks kick-off their Rugby Championship campaign in Brisbane on November 7.

If he continues to play in the same vein of form that he has just shown, though, one would have to say he would be at short odds to make the trip across the Tasman Sea.

Tasman 34 (Tries to David Havili (3), Andrew Makalio and Alex Nankivell; 3 conversions and penalty to Mitch Hunt)

Waikato 17 (Tries to Quinn Tupaea, Valynce Te Whare and Fletcher Smith; conversion to Smith)


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