Brought to you by Whanganui Rugby
The average local rugby punter may not recognise the surname, but they will respect the bloodline of Steelform Whanganui import and homecoming player Peceli Malanicagi.
A City College 1st XV alumnus, Malanicagi joins an outside backs group in the Whanganui squad who must fill the void left by the departed Vereniki Tikoisolomone.
Playing club rugby in Otago with Alhambra-Union, Malanicagi is the younger brother of Highlanders and NZ Sevens standout Jona Nareki – both young men Fijian-born, with Nareki changing his Malanicagi surname when he received his NZ citizenship.
The brothers got to play together for the first time last August for Alhambra-Union, as Nareki took a rare opportunity for some club rugby after being named the Highlanders Rookie of the Year.
Malanicagi is building some impressive credentials of his own.
He first got noticed at fullback for City College when they won the 2017 Whanganui Open Grade final against Whanganui Collegiate 2nd XV 38-28, scoring what proved the match-winning try.
A 2018 Whanganui Under-18s squad member, Malanicagi would transfer to Feilding High and in 2019 the winger scored his school's only try in their upset 13-8 victory over a very strong Collegiate 1st XV in the Central North Island competition, getting Feilding into the semifinals.
Malanicagi was chosen at the end of 2019 for the NZ Fiji Schools Sevens team, in the same side as then Collegiate loose forward and now fellow Whanganui squad member Semi Vodosese.
His most impressive achievement was this April when he was selected in the Highlanders Under-20s team for the Super Rugby Aotearoa U20's tournament in Taupō – scoring a try in the win over NZ Barbarians.
Whanganui coach Jason Caskey said assistant coach Jason Hamlin had been watching Malanicagi and given him the seal of approval.
"He looks like an athletic boy, got a bit of size as well."