It's time Vaea Fifta had some justice or at least an agreement from the Hurricanes that they will cease and desist picking him at lock.

He doesn't want to play there, the All Blacks don't want him to play there and if the Hurricanes want him to continue to be part of their set-up, they are going to need to stop picking him there.

By continuing to pick him at lock the Hurricanes are in danger of killing the career of one of the most exciting loose forwards to emerge in years.

Enough is enough. The central contracting system is supposed to ensure players are not unjustly disadvantaged the way they are in other nations.


Players here are supposed to be managed in a way that allows them to have a fair and reasonable opportunity to make the All Blacks.

They can't be set up to fail and Fifita, by continually being picked at lock when the national side have specified he is a blindside, is being set up to fail.

As he says, it has not been easy for him to demonstrate his extreme pace and athleticism during Super Rugby when his legs are constantly being drained by the scrummaging load he endures at lock.

It's not easy to impose himself as either destructive tackler or explosive ball carrier when he's being tasked with thankless grunt work.

The Hurricanes can of course push back with their legitimate contention that they are entitled to hold a different view about Fifita to the All Blacks. He's their player in their environment and they can pick him where the teams needs him.

All Black Vaea Fifita celebrates his try on debut with TJ Perenara. Photo / NZME.
All Black Vaea Fifita celebrates his try on debut with TJ Perenara. Photo / NZME.

But it's an argument that can be trumped by the almost universally held belief that it is a near criminal lack of judgement on the part of the Hurricanes to consider Fifita a lock.

What were they looking at last year when Fifita played against the Pumas at No 6 and delivered the sort of performance that left all rugby followers in awe?

Fifita screams out as being better, if not exclusively suited to blindside. He's the fastest forward in New Zealand.


And fastest by some distance - with only a handful of backs thought to be quicker.

Fifita is thought to have recorded the highest standing jump of any player in New Zealand - an exercise done to gauge explosive potential.

At 1.96m he's in the short lock category. The likes of Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick are 2.03m and 2.04m respectively.

But short locks survive in test football on the basis of their heft and typically weigh around 116kg to 120kg. Fifita is about 112kg, long-limbed and athletic in build rather than square-shouldered and barrel-chested.

Physically he doesn't fit any lock mould and it would seem that the Hurricanes forced him into the second row to avoid facing a weekly selection decision at blindside between Fifita and captain Brad Shields.

The All Blacks had their view that Fifita was the better player and is it any wonder that the 26-year-old has confessed to being confused at why he's currently with Wellington and not the national side?

In a central contracting system designed to allow players to follow a pathway agreed by club and country, Fifita was picked at lock by the former against the wishes of the latter so as the Hurricanes could develop a player who committed his allegiance to England.

The fact he has been dropped by the All Blacks who have said he must play blindside and not lock, while the man who has replaced him at blindside, Jackson Hemopo, has spent the season playing at lock for the Highlanders, has left Fifita a touch disillusioned.

That's understandable but it doesn't naturally flow to his claim he has been misled by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

Fifita has been given specific feedback on what he needs to do to return to the national fold and clearly Hansen feels that playing the 26-year-old at lock has hurt his development and damaged his form.

Hemopo, on the other hand, has played with enough mobility and athleticism at lock for the Highlanders to convince the All Blacks he can successfully convert to blindside in the international arena.