Highlanders Rob Thompson looking to make his mark after Malakai Fekitoa 'left huge boots to fill'

Highlanders centre Rob Thompson admits he has a task on his hand, replacing former All Blacks star Malakai Fekitoa this Super Rugby season.

Fekitoa, 25, left the Highlander and New Zealand Rugby for French side Toulon last year, with Thompson so far establishing himself as the bruising centre's replacement.

"Mala (Fekitoa) left huge boots to fill," Thompson said.

"The man is a freakish trainer. He worked tirelessly that guy, just inspirational."

Thompson says that he learned from Fekitoa's example, with the pair having spent two seasons together at the Highlanders.

"I watched him closely, he's a good man Malakai."

"I learned a lot over the two years I was with him, he's a good friend of mine."

Rob Thompson has started the season in Malakai Fekitoa's old jersey. Source: 1 NEWS



Watch: David Havili streaks 90m to score intercept try as Mako obliterate Taranaki

Tasman have all but forgotten their tough loss to Auckland last week with an offensive clinic against another Premiership side tonight, comfortably beating Taranaki 53-17 at Trafalgar Park.

Despite the scoreline, the game was quiet in the opening 20 minutes of the match until finally the hosts barged over the line with Tyrel Lomax to score.

The forwards continued to dominate after that with hooker Andrew Makalio scoring two tries in the space of four minutes to give Tasman a healthy 24-3 lead.

Things went from bad to worse for Taranaki in the second half though as David Havili got the Mako going once again with a perfectly-timed intercept near his own line which he ran 90m to score at the other end.

Taranaki managed to pick up two tries late in the match but no where near enough to mount a comeback as Tasman continued to pile on the points.

With the win, Tasman remain in third behind Auckland and Canterbury while Taranaki sit second to last in the Premiership with just two wins from six matches.


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Northland pierce Manawatū's defence with long-range try in Mitre 10 Cup pummelling

Northland have breathed some life into their Mitre 10 Cup campaign after a convincing 49-19 win over Manawatū in Whangārei this afternoon.

The two Championship sides came into today's contest both sitting on one win from four matches played and despite the final scoreline, it was the visitors who got off to a strong start when James Tofa scored in the third minute.

But it went downhill for the Turbos from there, with Northland piling on five tries in the next 37 minutes to hold a a 34-12 lead at halftime.

Manawatū's comeback efforts weren't helped in the second half either when Sione Asi was sent to the bin as a punishment for the Turbos' constant ill-discipline on their own try line.

However they did give themselves something to feed off for next week with Adrian Wyrill crossing over in the final minute of play.

With the bonus point win, Northland move to third in the Championship standings while Manawatū sit second-to-last - only ahead of winless Southland.


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Watch: Kieran Read shuts down idea Springboks are still All Blacks' biggest rivals

All Blacks captain Kieran Read has gently rejected the idea the Springboks are still his side's biggest rivals ahead of tomorrow night's Test in Wellington.

Read was asked by media at today's captain's run if he still saw South Africa as the "number one foe" that can give the All Blacks trouble.

But the skipper couldn't quite agree.

"Oh, look, I don't know. It is an old foe of ours and each team around the world has its special kind of meanings for us as All Blacks to play against," Read said.

"The South Africans are special in their own way. It's hard to pinpoint.

"We need to turn up and perform every test we play, so it's another one of those."

Siya Kolisi backed up his coach’s comment that he’d be happy with a “close loss”. Source: 1 NEWS

The Springboks enter tomorrow night's contest with back-to-back away losses in the Rugby Championship to Argentina and Australia but a further look back in history paints an even bleaker picture for the visitors.

The Springboks have not beaten the All Blacks since 2014 and the last time they beat them on NZ soil is a further five years back in 2009 in Hamilton.

There's also the fact South Africa fell to an all-time low in the world rankings last month, dropping to seventh, behind sixth-ranked Scotland.

But Read said there is another drive pushing his side tomorrow night - the chance to lock up the Rugby Championship.

"It's there and it is a focus of ours, to win this championship, and we'd love to do it in the four games.

"But we can't get ahead of ourselves, we know the challenge that presents itself, but we've got that opportunity and hopefully we'll perform out there tomorrow night."

The All Blacks captain says South Africa is special in their own way. Source: 1 NEWS


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'It's not something you think about' – Siya Kolisi not caught up in historic Boks captaincy

His captaincy may have been a historic moment for South African rugby but Siya Kolisi isn't letting it affect his game.

Kolisi made history in June this year when the Springboks played England at Johannesburg when he became the first black player to lead the side.

But the flanker says it was a moment he never thought of.

"It's not something you think about every day. Even now that I'm older, you don't wake up and say, 'I wish I could become Springboks captain'," he said.

"All you want to do is put on the Springboks jersey but now that I've been given this responsibility it's a great honour and a great privilege."

Despite winning the series against England earlier this year, Kolisi has begun his first Rugby Championship in charge with a rough string of results.

After a win at home against Argentina, the Springboks have suffered back-to-back away defeats by the Pumas and Wallabies and now face the All Blacks in Wellington this weekend.

Kolisi said the tough road trip just six games into his tenure as Springboks captain has been a learning curve.

"You've got to lift yourself, even if you're disappointed. When the team looks to you, they must see a confident guy that wants to take on whatever is coming their way.

"The one thing I like about myself is I'm not scared to learn from others who have been there or are more experienced than I am. I'm not scared of that."

Kolisi became the first black captain of the South African rugby side this year. Source: 1 NEWS


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