Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

100 Greatest All Blacks: Sitiveni Sivivatu

Stress was never likely to claim Sitiveni Sivivatu but he did create apoplexy amongst the All Blacks.

When he scored two tries against them for the sparky but short-lived Pacific Islanders in 2004, all sorts of alarms were ringing for the home side at Albany.

A year later he was wearing black in his All Black debut against his native Fiji and scoring four tries with a mix of brilliant footwork, superb changes of pace and intuition.

Sivivatu played 46 tests with a strong streak lasting through the Lions visit in 2005 until the World Cup when he was underused. His tryscoring and general play on tour against France in 2009 was another reminder of the tricks the All Blacks missed two years before.

His latter seasons were troubled by injury until he took up a contract in Europe where he was still playing strongly enough to be a finalist in the player of the year awards last season.

During his seven year stint with the All Blacks, Sivivatu did not distinguish himself with his timekeeping while the management stress levels used to rise when he was awol from meetings , snoozing instead of training or in kava time.

When the man was in tune, he could dance though. His drifting style mesmerized defenders while if he had to turn and retrieve kicks, that languid quality used to try his coaches' patience even more.

Exasperation and jubilation came in the Sivivatu package. He was a wonderful athlete whose skills also worked at fullback but he could get distracted as the rugby itineraries grew longer each season.

Statistics
Date of birth: 19 April 1982
Position: Left wing
Matches: 46
Tests: 45
Test debut: 10 June 2005 v Fiji, Albany
Last test: 6 August 2011 v Australia, Auckland
Province: Counties Manukau, Waikato
Franchise: Chiefs
Test tries: 29
Test points: 145

- NZ Herald

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