Ziggy Fisi'ihoi was so surprised to be called into the Chiefs squad for 2016, he didn't realise who Dave Rennie was when he phoned with the good news.

Steamers prop Fisi'ihoi, who is originally from Tonga but is based in Rotorua, was one of 14 new faces named in the 2016 Chiefs squad last week.

"There was a rumour going around and people told me that I was in the mix [to make the Chiefs], but I did not believe them," Fisi'ihoi said. "I did not expect anything, but the coach rang up and I did not know it was him.

"He said it is Dave here, and I said Dave who?


"He said it is Dave Rennie and I could not talk.

"I was just quiet and couldn't say anything. He kept saying hello, hello, three times to me, because I was nervous as and didn't say anything."

When Fisi'ihoi finally found some words, Rennie offered him a place in his team.

"He asked me if I wanted to hear some good news and he said I was in the Chiefs for 2016.

"At that moment I almost started to cry because I did not even know ... it was one of the happiest days of my life," he said.

"On the following day I went over to Hamilton to do a couple of tests, medical and stuff, and they said I'm sweet to go."

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The 27-year-old, who has represented East Coast in the past, made his debut for the Bay of Plenty Steamers last year. He was mainly used as a bench player this season, but won a couple of starts towards the back end of the season.

He produced a couple of standout performances in the final few games, including a barnstorming match in the semifinal loss to Hawke's Bay.

Fisi'ihoi said his goal during his first season at the Chiefs was to work hard and make his way into the 23-man playing team.

Of all the players at the Chiefs, he was most looking forward to playing alongside All Black Brodie Retallick.

"I'm looking forward to playing alongside Retallick. I think he is a work horse and a metres man, so I'm looking forward to working with him, and Sam Cane. It would be very exciting if I got the opportunity to play with them.

"Especially if I had Retallick behind me at scrum time."

Fisi'ihoi grew up in Tonga but has been living in Rotorua for the best part of a decade, playing club rugby for Rotoiti and Whakarewarewa.

Fisi'ihoi will be moving to Hamilton soon, with his partner and three children. Fisi'ihoi said his parents found out he had made the Chiefs when they saw it on television back in Tonga.

"My mum rang me on Monday and said good luck," he said. "They saw it on the radio and TV in Tonga, that I'm in the team, and she started to cry."

He said a special thank you to everyone who had helped him come this far including Keith Roberts, who did a lot of work with him this year at the Bay of Plenty Steamers.

Fisi'ihoi said he hoped to play for Tonga one day.