Waratahs great who’s out to end their Super surge

Sekope Kepu performed in 141 video games for the Waratahs, together with their biggest triumph at Super Rugby stage, so you possibly can anticipate him to hold a good slab of emotion into his first sport in opposition to his outdated membership on Saturday.

Kepu, born in Sydney to Tongan dad and mom, will lead out a workforce representing the heritage of his household as captain of Moana Pasifika at Mt Sensible Stadium, an enormous honour coming on the tail finish of a formidable profession that included that 2014 SR title with the Tahs

Moana Pasifika have had a troubled begin to life in Super Rugby Pacific – 4 video games moved due to Covid points and a stretch of six video games in 23 days testing their reserves of vitality, if not their spirit.

They’re a workforce not like some other within the historical past of the competitors, bringing gamers from totally different nations along with the deal with being trailblazers and an inspiration for his or her area. There’s a variety of singing, a heap of brotherhood, and Kepu’s function in driving that is integral.

Sekope Kepu runs on the spot during a Waratahs Super 14 training session at Victoria Barracks on March 2, 2010 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Sekope Kepu throughout a Waratahs coaching session in 2010 (Photograph by Mark Kolbe/Getty Photographs)

He’s 36 and his 110 Checks within the furnace of the Wallabies entrance row give him the gravitas to guide.

“It’s about finding your process, your true north, try not to get too rattled and stay composed in the heat of battle,” is how Kepu summed up his strategy to The Roar Rugby Podcast final week.

“The distinctive factor is we’re not a franchise like a metropolis or a state, we’re characterize our folks and that’s not solely in Auckland and within the islands however in every single place across the globe.

“It’s fairly humbling to get some messages from folks from the UK, Europe, the States, Australia and in every single place.

“Just people proud of what we’re doing and who want to get behind the team values and they’re seeing what we’re trying to do and are extremely proud.”

Though a seemingly apparent alternative as captain, Kepu suggests he was bowled over when the supply arrived.

“It’s a really distinctive workforce and I didn’t actually know the influence that it might haven’t solely on myself however my household and likewise the better Pacific Island group.

Sekope Kepu of Moana Pasifika sings in the team huddle following the Super Rugby pre season trial match between Moana Pasifika and the Chiefs at Mt Smart Stadium on February 04, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Sekope Kepu sings within the workforce huddle following the Super Rugby pre season trial match between Moana Pasifika and the Chiefs.  (Photograph by Hannah Peters/Getty Photographs)

“After I was chosen as captain that was simply actually humbling and one thing I didn’t see coming and one thing I’m nonetheless studying and attempting to run with.

“Being ready to assist put in construction values and requirements and constructing it from the bottom up has been one thing fairly particular and it’s been a studying for everyone.

“We speak about it as our team is more than rugby – it’s reaching out and inspiring the next generation of young kids that want to be like this team.”

The Tahs are, in fact, conscious of what Kepu will deliver to the homecoming social gathering in Auckland on Saturday.

“If he gets dominance early, he is pretty much impossible to stop,” mentioned Tahs hooker Dave Porecki, a former teammate of Kepu’s at London Irish.

“He’s a very strong tight-head scrummager so if you nullify him early – that’s for [Angus Bell] and myself to do early – you can discourage him from being so dominant throughout the game.”

The Tahs are coming into the sport after an upset over the Crusaders. Whereas coach Darren Coleman suggests this activity will probably be even tougher, due to a vocal ‘home’ crowd, he additionally is aware of a win will assist push their trigger for a high 4 end.

Kepu is an imposing barrier in a workforce of bodily bruisers – and Porecki dominated out attempting any methods on the outdated canine.

“I think he’s too experienced for someone like me to rattle him,” Porecki mentioned.

Kepu is simply 4 years youthful than coach Aaron Mauger, a teammate of Kepu’s brother of their college boy days.

Mauger has praised Kepu for his management and says his kind is resurgent because of the accountability he’s taken on.

“He’s going really well, Sekope, and we’re really lucky to have a man of his quality,” Mauger mentioned on SENZ radio this week.

“Firstly, as a person and the affect he has on the expansion of our younger gamers. Not simply as footy gamers, however serving to them on (their) life journey.

“He’s nicely supported by Christian (Lealiifano), Jack (Lam), Tomasi (Alosio), Ere Enari … the extra skilled guys which can be a part of our management group. Simply high quality males, I like working with these boys, and I like working with Keps.

“He makes it enjoyable, we’ve acquired a superb relationship. We’re actually aligned and he’s been large for this workforce.

“He’s in good form, and to see him back at his best probably just shows how much he’s enjoying his rugby as well.”

The sensation is clearly mutual.

“Aaron’s awesome,” Kepu advised The Roar. “He’s somebody that I grew up watching – he performed the identical place as my older brother and the identical NZ consultant groups and I respect and look as much as my older brother as nicely.

“It’s a relationship the place he runs issues by not solely on my own however the management and there’s a lot of backward and forward about what we expect can be greatest for the workforce – but additionally he finally makes the ultimate calls.

“I’ve actually loved working with him thus far and having the ability to simply discuss to him.

“In Queenstown, when we were in isolation there, I just picked up the phone and rung him and said ‘how you going bro?’, just check in and maybe it wasn’t even footy but every now again a random text or phone call to check up on each other.”

It received’t come as a shock that Kepu fancies extending his profession past the sphere and into the coach’s field.

There was a second earlier this season when he was injured and consigned to the stands, and his reactions ran the complete vary of feelings.

“I have a passion for coaching,” he advised The Roar.

“I assume it’s a little bit bit as you grow old you attempting to share your information with different youthful gamers. The sweetness is on this workforce I can try this.

“Yeah, I saw that footage and thought ‘I’m a passionate guy!’”

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