Winger poised to step up

Taniwha wing Jone Macilai looks set to play Super Rugby in 2015. But the franchise that he is signs with is yet to be set in contractual stone.

Three Super franchises - the Blues, Chiefs and Crusaders - have shown interest in Macilai.

Ask Macilai and he enthuses about his favourite players hailing from the Crusaders, and discussions with the Christchurch-based franchise. Contractual arrangements are yet to be finalised, so whether it is the Crusaders who have picked Macilai up will not be known for a few weeks yet.

The nippy 24-year-old was plucked from obscurity by Awanui coach Glen Subritzky playing sevens at a local tournament in Fiji in 2012 and offered a three-year contract with the Northland ITM side last year.

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Unfortunately, he dislocated his elbow after playing just two games for the Taniwha in 2013, but this year his fitness and form have been good, heading into the ITM Cup semis against Hawke's Bay tomorrow.

This week he revealed that three Super Rugby franchises - Blues, Chiefs and the Crusaders - showed interest in him earlier this year.

He hopes to head for a Super franchise early next year, after taking a short break from rugby after the ITM Cup.

Macilai vowed to honour the remainder of his three-year deal with Northland that expires next year, which means he will feature for the Cambridge Blue if selected for next year's ITM Cup.

His rugby career, he believes, got off to a flying start in a short span of time. "Back home, while playing in local sevens tournaments, my aim was to get into the Fiji sevens squad," he said.

To be offered an opportunity to play in Awanui, then for Northland and now Super Rugby, was a great honour.

Macilai spent time in the Blues development squad before this year's Super Rugby competition, and hopes one day to wear the silver fern and black jersey, rather than the palm trees of Fiji.

"There are many local boys in Fiji wanting to represent their country, so I don't want to close the door on them by making myself available for my country.

"I am here and I believe this is where my future lies now," Macilai said.

Macilai was in a 12-man Northland squad that contested the Fiji Coral Coast Sevens in November last year, the same tourney where Subritzky approached him to ply his trade for Awanui.

Subritzky was also instrumental in bringing Rupeni Caucau to Northland more than a decade ago.