Rugby: Frisky Fruean boasts Makos oil

By Shane Hurndell

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Robbie Fruean (with ball) will create havoc. PHOTO/Duncan Brown
Robbie Fruean (with ball) will create havoc. PHOTO/Duncan Brown

Blockbusting centre Robbie Fruean is a master at creating opportunities for his wingers on the rugby field.

The Hawke's Bay Magpie has done it at Super Rugby level for the Hurricanes, Crusaders and Chiefs and at ITM Cup level for Wellington and Canterbury. In the future he hopes to create opportunities of a different kind ... for youth.

"I want to put my social science studies to good use and tap into making things better for youth worldwide," Fruean explained after yesterday's final Magpies training session at Napier's McLean Park in the buildup to tomorrow's cup opener against the Tasman Makos in Blenheim.

While the fact Fruean, 26, has a post-rugby career sorted is admirable he is equally as focused in his quest to resurrect his Super Rugby career.

"I haven't got a Super contract for next year and that's one of the reasons I've come to the Bay ... the Magpies will be a good team to help push my case with," Fruean said.

"A couple of other unions wanted me but Hawke's Bay was the most hungry. Telusa kept telling me how good the Magpies environment was and how friendly the Hawke's Bay people are and I've certainly noticed that," Fruean said referring to 2013 Magpies winger and his former Canterbury and Crusaders teammate Telusa Veainu who he stayed with in Christchurch.

After playing just four games with the Chiefs this year because of treatment for abnormal heart rhythms Fruean, who has signed a two-year contract with the Magpies, is fresh and eager for game time.

"It's good to be playing alongside Andrew too," he said referring to his former Chiefs teammate Andrew Horrell. "I learn off him and we feed off each other."

Fruean agreed the Magpies 39-22 pre-season win against Waikato last weekend "wasn't the perfect game".

"We eventually came away with the win but it wasn't pretty. It gave us the opportunity to work on aspects of our game which need addressing ... teams don't want to peak at the beginning of the season," Fruean explained.

The International Rugby Board's 2007 world under-19 player-of-the-year said improving handling accuracy, their one-on-one defence and sticking to structures are musts for the Magpies tomorrow against a Makos outfit he knows plenty about from his time spent in Canterbury. Fruean has considerable respect for the player he's marking - Kieron Fonotia.

"Kieron has come a long way this year from the Crusaders wider training group into their starting XV ... it's going to be cool to play against him. They've got a lot of other good players too ... the likes of Mitchell Scott on the wing, Tom Marshall at second-five and Tevita Koloamatangi at flanker."

Fruean, who experienced his second case of open-heart surgery last year, pointed out Landowne Park can be a tough venue for visiting teams.

"They don't get many cup games there during a season so when they do they get a huge home crowd and that can be a big factor."

A former Porirua College head boy, Fruean, was a singer in his school choir. "We didn't win any titles but we were one of the most entertaining choirs," he recalled.

The big fan of R & B Soul music also enjoys chilling out with his British Bulldog and building.

"One of my goals is to build my own home. I'm not the kind of guy who can sit around going nothing ... I'm more hands-on," Fruean said.

This is also the way the flatmate of new Magpies fullback Ryan Tongia approaches his rugby.

To be fair, Fruean could have listed the bulk of the Makos starting XV when outlining the hosts quality players.

Some he didn't mention include Crusaders prop Tim Perry, experienced lock Joe Wheeler, captain and openside flanker Shane Christie, Chiefs No8 Liam Squire, first five-eighth Marty Banks and winger Bryce Heem who is an All Black Sevens rep.

Former Magpies hooker Jesse MacDonald will be on the Makos subs bench.

His brother and former Crusader Quentin MacDonald again has the Makos No2 hooker's jersey.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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