'He's always been a freak' - Ex-All Blacks prop backs Kiwis' Nelson Asofa-Solomona for union switch

Former All Blacks prop Neemia Tialata says that Kiwis rookie Nelson Asofa-Solomona has everything it takes to succeed in rugby union - should he decide to switch codes.

After a breakout season with the Melbourne Storm in the NRL, Asofa-Solomona is currently with the Kiwis, preparing to take on Fiji in this weekend's World Cup quarter final in his hometown of Wellington.

His cousin - 43-Test All Blacks prop Tialata - reckons that Asofa-Solomona would do just as well in an All Blacks jersey, than in the black and white of the Kiwis.

"He's always been a freak," Tialata told 1 NEWS.

In 2013 the bulldozing forward was a star for Wellington College, tonight he’ll take the field in the NRL Grand Final. Source: Seven Sharp

"I probably could see him in the back row somewhere, or out in the centres."

Tialata also said that Asofa-Solomona's background, which saw him switch from union to league in his youth, would serve in good stead should he wish to cross back over.

"Obviously coming from a rugby union family and background, it would be easy for him to make the switch later on."

Neemia Tialata says that his cousin would shine if he crossed codes. Source: 1 NEWS


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'I couldn't hold myself back' – Kiwis rookie reflects on emotional debut

New Kiwis hooker Brandon Smith has opened up about his debut heroics, making his first Test appearance in last night's 26-24 win over the Kangaroos at Mt Smart Stadium.

Smith, 22, was one of several debutants in Michael Maguire's side, proving his worth in the number nine jersey with a try, while also having another ruled out by the bunker.

Speaking to 1 NEWS this afternoon, the youngster revealed he was nearly overwhelmed by his emotions, representing his country for the very first time in front of his family and friends, who had made the trip from Waiheke Island.

"I couldn't hold myself back when I saw my family in the crowd," he said.

"It was an unreal thing for me, I've never been through such an emotional thing in my life. 

"When I was running out of the tunnel I heard all the Waiheke boys yelling 'ram hammer' (the chant of the Waiheke Rams side)

"Running out, it sent shivers down my spine, I just wish I could relive it again."

Hooker Brandon Smith shone in last night's 26-24 win over Australia. Source: 1 NEWS


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'We won the game before we played it' - Shaun Johnson credits Kiwis' new coach for win over Kangaroos

Michael Maguire's professionalism and belief will ensure the Kiwis' resurgence in international rugby league continues on his coaching watch.

That's the assessment of halfback Shaun Johnson following New Zealand's stunning 26-24 upset of world champions Australia at Mt Smart Stadium.

In just his second Test in charge, Maguire had the hosts fizzing in a dominant performance, which was a world apart from what the Kiwis offered during the tenure of predecessor David Kidwell.

The 23-year-old was a key figure in the stunning 26-24 win over the Kangaroos. Source: 1 NEWS

Johnson reckons it marks the start of a new era under former NRL premiership- winning coach Maguire and New Zealand Rugby League chief executive Greg Peters, who were both appointed in the fallout from last year's disastrous World Cup quarter-final exit.

Johnson said Australian Maguire's preparation and belief in his players opened the eyes of long-standing members of the team.

"The work had started before we actually assembled. That alone, I haven't had since I've been in this group," the 26-Test veteran said.

"It's no coincidence. Things change for a reason and the experience Madge (Maguire) has brought, the energy Greg's brought. It fizzes down from the top.

"Madge spoke about winning that many times, it was almost as if we won the game before we played it."

Johnson admitted disappointment at a crowd size for the trans-Tasman triple- header of just 12,763 - less than half the ground's capacity and 5000 short of the average crowd for Warriors' NRL home matches this season.

He said the empty seats reflected how the team had sunk in the eyes of the Kiwi public, both with their results and off-field image.

He hopes that will gradually change, continuing during the looming three-Test series away to England.

Johnson's bright touches were enough for him to be crowned man of the match although there were numerous team-mates who would have challenged closely for the award.

The 28-year-old playmaker was simply happy to perform in his first match since the Warriors were eliminated from the NRL finals by Penrith five weeks ago.

He spent several weeks digesting criticism for his own performance, even though few of the Warriors fired in that game.

"Obviously, you take the good with the bad throughout your career and a lot of the time I'm at the front when things aren't going well," he said.

"Times like this, when you do play well and get a good win against a quality team, you've got to enjoy it. I thought we had boys right across the park that did their jobs and I was no different."


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'There were some dark days' - Jesse Bromwich feared Kiwis career was over after cocaine scandal

Having returned to the Kiwis for the first time in 18 months, Jesse Browmich is relieved to have put last year's cocaine scandal behind him, helping New Zealand to a landmark victory over Australia at Mt Smart Stadium.

Bromwich, 29, along with teammate Kevin Proctor both made their Test returns in last night's 26-24 victory, having been out of international reckoning since last year's cocaine scandal.

The pair were allegedly caught trying to purchase cocaine outside a Canberra nightclub, following the 30-12 loss to Australia in last year's Anzac Test.

At the time coach David Kidwell subsequently decided that neither of the pair would be selected for last year's Rugby League World Cup, having failed to uphold the values of the team. The Kiwis would go on to lose in the quarter-finals to Fiji.

Speaking to Stuff, Bromwich opened up about the relief of being back in the Kiwis' ranks, having feared his Test career was over.

"It was great," Bromwich said. "I was a bit emotional at the start and I'm just happy to be back."

"I'm proud of the boys, how they've gone about their business and how they've welcomed me back in."

Bromwich also spoke of his appreciation for the work of new coach Michael Maguire, who made the decision to recall both him and Proctor.

"There were some dark days, but I spoke to Madge (Maguire) quite a lot before the Denver Test."

"So I knew I was always a chance, because Madge was talking to me at length about which direction he wanted to go.

"So I'm grateful for the opportunity and I can't thank him enough."

Jesse Bromwich
Jesse Bromwich Source: Photosport


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'It's only the start' - Kiwis confident of future success after victory over Australia

Despite the Kiwis' 26-24 win over the Kangaroos last night being regarded as a watershed moment for New Zealand Rugby League, coach Michael Maguire is adamant that it's only the beginning of what his new look side can achieve.

Down at halftime, the Kiwis rallied to secure a famous win over their trans-Tasman foes, ending the Kangaroos' 13-Test winning streak in the process - their first success over Australia since 2015.

Speaking at his post match media conference though, Maguire says that his job is now to ensure that such victories can occur on a regular basis.

The 23-year-old was a key figure in the stunning 26-24 win over the Kangaroos. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's very special but I also know it's only the start. We've got to continually back up these type of performances and that's when you can start talking about the team and where we're going," Maguire said.

"It's okay to do it tonight but we've got to reflect that over this next tour. We need to lay the platform and that's what this period of time is all about.

"If they're prepared to do what they did this week and keep improving and working hard, then this team can go to a great place.

"It was definitely something I'll remember for the rest of my life and be able to tell my kids, and maybe my grandkids one day."

The Kiwis are next in action when they travel to the UK for a three-Test series against England later this month.


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