It'll be slim pickings for Kaka

By SHANE HURNDELL

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AS you tuck into your second helping of Christmas dessert on Tuesday spare a thought for Gillies Kaka.

After scoring a 12-month All Black Sevens contract on Thursday the Hawke's Bay Magpies outside back won't be going near dessert and several other favourite dishes during the coming weeks.

"I've got my orders from Titch and I can tell you I'm going to have to make some sacrifices but it will be worth it," Kaka said referring to All Black Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens.

"I used to have a few takeaways but there's no bad stuff on Titch's list. My eating habits are going to be pretty boring from now on ... plenty of non-fat chicken. I think we will be allowed one bit of bacon as part of our breakfast meal after our second tournament in February," Kaka said.

Kaka, 22, agreed being named as one of 16 contracted Sevens players was the ideal form of consolation for missing out on a Super Rugby contract back in October.

"When I went to my first Sevens camp Titch told me to put that disappointment behind me and work hard.

I did and it paid off ... I missed the team for the South Africa tournament earlier this month but now I'm a contracted player I can make the next World Series tournament in Wellington in February as my next major goal."

A key factor in his non-selection for the South Africa tournament in Port Elizabeth was a shoulder injury he collected in the second to last Magpies ITM Cup game of the season against Canterbury. But Kaka continued playing with it and aggravated it in a trial match at the Sevens camp.

"I told Titch about the injury after the trial and he told me to get it right ... it's good to be given a second chance."

While Kaka understood negotiations are still continuing with regard to final payment figures for the contracted Sevens players he believed there won't be much difference in what Sevens and Super Rugby players are paid. He has also heard some players may be told to focus soley on Sevens as the Rio Olympics get closer.

"I'm happy to play both 15s and Sevens at this stage. Obviously Rio has to be the long-term goal ... I just have to remain in the squad and work hard."

Kaka's form for Hawke's Bay at the Mount Maunganui-hosted inter-provincial tournament on January 5 and at the Queenstown nationals on January 12 and 13 will determine whether he makes the squad of 12 for the Wellington tournament. His versatility could also enhance his chances of selection.

The son of former New Zealand Maori midfield back Charlie Kaka, Kaka, has played plenty of Sevens as a winger and midfield player for Hawke's Bay. At the national camp he got considerable game time at first receiver as Canterbury-based former Magpie Mark Jackman and Bay of Plenty's Toby Arnold were both injured.

A Palmerston North Boys' High School product, Kaka, agreed it would be awesome to make his All Black Sevens debut in Wellington as all of Wairarapa-based relations wouldn't have far to travel to support him.

His new contract means Kaka is likely to miss a fair chunk of the club season with Havelock North. However another positive spin off from being a contracted Sevens player is the fact his fitness levels will be so high he won't find the Magpies pre-season training session too arduous when he links up with the ITM Cup squad again.

"Just as there is no time for bad food there is no time to get slack with my fitness levels," Kaka said.

Because of his Magpies commitments Kaka had to swap his EIT carpentry course for a Maori history one this year.

He said he is enjoying learning history related to all tribes from throughout the country and he pointed out it could lead to him following his mother Maahi's path and becoming a teacher after his days as a professional rugby player end. For now he is busy adjusting to life as a contracted Sevens player.


 


The 16 players New Zealand Rugby Union contracted for next year: Toby Arnold (Bay of Plenty), Kurt Baker (Taranaki), Tomasi Cama (Manawatu), Scott Curry (Manawatu), Sam Dickson (Canterbury), DJ Forbes (Counties Manukau), Mark Jackman (Canterbury), Gillies Kaka (Hawke's Bay), Milford Keresoma (Auckland), Warwick Lahmert (Taranaki), Ben Lam (Auckland), Tim Mikkelson (Waikato), Luke Masirewa (Waikato), Lote Raikabula (Wellington), Sherwin Stowers (Counties Manukau), Belgium Tuatagaloa (Wellington).


POOL PLAY Hawke's Bay's pool play opponents at on day one of the Queenstown-hosted nationals which will be televised live on Sky Sport 1 are:

12.30pm v North Harbour; 3.10pm v Wairarapa Bush; 7.10pm v Otago.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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