Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

First Take: Fekitoa shows star potential

Malakai Fekitoa
Malakai Fekitoa was rejected by the Blues, but shows star potential. Photo / Getty Images
Malakai Fekitoa was rejected by the Blues, but shows star potential. Photo / Getty Images

Highlanders 27
Bulls 20

Malakai Fekitoa stayed firmly on the All Blacks' radar, providing the key attacking moments in the Highlanders win over the Bulls.

Centre Fekitoa has star potential written all over him. He didn't figure attack wise as the visitors beat up Jamie Joseph's men in the opening stanza at Dunedin's wonderful indoor stadium. But once the Highlanders had absorbed the pounding and started to break free, Blues reject Fekitoa stamped his mark on the game.

He made one try with a sharp dart and pass, and then rampaged through the middle for one himself. Like a lot of terrific players, he made these killer moments look easy.

As has been written already this year, his is an unlikely story of test consideration. He was a crowd favourite in Auckland, and his failure to make the Blues did raise murmurs of discontent. But All Black contender, with the wobbly Highlanders? That's a different story.

Conrad Smith has set the benchmark as a test centre but by the same token, sharper evasive skills in the midfield would be a tempting prospect. Fekitoa might be the man. He's definitely in the hunt.

And who said the good big man always beats the good little man? The Bulls were imposing, sharp and on their game as they built an early 10 point lead.

But the Highlanders clung on, and as their energy levels rose the Bulls' confidence and ball control faded. These determined Highlanders have already gone a long way towards restoring pride after a horrible 2013.

- NZ Herald

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