Vaea Fifita puzzled after Steve Hansen leaves him out of All Blacks - 'I kind of feel like he's not telling me the truth'

Hurricanes loose forward Vaea Fifita has opened up about his surprise omission from Steve Hansen's Rugby Championship squad, perplexed by his coach's reasoning.

Fifita has been named to start for NZ against the France in Paris on Sunday. Source: 1 NEWS

Fifita, 26, was a notable omission from Hansen's side to face Australia, Argentina and South Africa, returning to play for Wellington in the Mitre 10 Cup instead.

Hansen himself gave the reasoning that he wasn't going to pick Fifita as a loose forward, having played the past Super Rugby season as a lock.

The All Blacks' newest weapon sat out of practice with a sore shoulder today. Source: 1 NEWS

However, Hansen's rationale is contradicted by the selection of Highlanders forward Jackson Hemopo, who fits into the exact same category.

Speaking to Stuff, Fifita said he was confused by his coach's reasoning for his exclusion.

"He told me that. But when I saw he got interviewed and he said he signed Hemopo to six, not lock, I kind of feel like he's not telling me the truth," Fifita said.

The flanker had a breakout performance against Argentina in New Plymouth Source: 1 NEWS

Fifita also said that he prefers his role at number six, as opposed to in the second row.

"I like six because I can use my athleticism to do what I can do on the outside, rather than just stay tight and do the hard work like running into a brick wall and getting your body tired."

Fifita will get the chance to prove his worth as a blindside flanker, certain to line up for Wellington against Otago in this weekend's Mitre 10 Cup opener.

All Blacks assistant Ian Foster said it was understandable that Vaea Fifita may have been confused about why he was dropped. Source: 1 NEWS


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Most read: Meet the Kiwi farmer who went from being a Black Fern to becoming the first female to ref a men's first-class game

This story was first published on Tuesday September 18

Rebecca Mahoney says the milestone isn’t about gender – it’s about hard work and a bit of training. Source: 1 NEWS | Sky

Former Black Fern Rebecca Mahoney may have made history when she became the first woman to referee a men’s first-class rugby match last weekend, but she’s shaking off the milestone.

"It's not about who you are or where you're from or what your gender is, it's just hard work and a bit of training."

The 35-year-old has been around rugby most of her life, having won two World Cups before trading in her No.10 jersey for the whistle.

That experience came in handy on Saturday in Te Aroha when she officiated her first Mitre 10 Heartland Championship game between King Country and Thames Valley.

"To see women ref out there, there's no problems," Thames Valley captain Alex Bradley said after the game.

"They take control - probably better than some of the men."

But it’s not just her experience from the game that helps her.

Mahoney says farm life in Eketahuna plays an important role too.

"I'm extremely challenged to hit a standard that most of the boys can hit quite easily, and that's not going to change - genetics aren’t going to change that," she said.

"It’s just a lot of hard work that's going to have to go into it."

History shows the rural lifestyle has gone hand in hand with rugby's greatest figures – take Sir Colin Meads as a prime example.

Women have officiated men in Tests between developing nations but nothing close to the intensity of first-class New Zealand domestic rugby.

While Mahoney doesn’t think she’ll ever officiate the All Blacks, she’s happy knowing the path is a little bit closer.


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John Mitchell leaves Bulls for defence coach role with England under Eddie Jones - report

Former All Blacks coach John Mitchell has reportedly finalised a deal to join Eddie Jones as England's new defence coach.

ON THE MOVE: John Mitchell

South African newspaper Die Burger reports Mitchell has been released from his Super Rugby head coaching role at the Bulls after the Rugby Football Union agreed to pay a transfer fee.

The fee reportedly sat between NZ$300,000 and $450,000.

Mitchell will now assist Jones as the team looks to turn around their recent form in time for next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Former Springboks captain Victor Matfield, who played 140 matches for the Bulls, has been rumoured as a possible replacement for Mitchell.

Under Mitchell, the Bulls finished 12th in this year's competition after losing 10 of their 16 games.


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First woman to ref a men's first-class rugby match reflects on journey - 'I wasn't sure it was achievable'

Former Black Fern Rebecca Mahoney achieved a milestone for woman in rugby over the weekend when she became the first female referee to officiate a men's first-class game, but she admits she once thought it may have never been possible.

Mahoney, who played 16 matches for the Black Ferns before transitioning to refereeing, was put in charge of Saturday's Mitre 10 Heartland Championship match between Thames Valley and King Country.

"Thames Valley was a fantastic host union for me," she said.

"Just a nice, small, heartland union to get me my first game which was pretty special... the boys were good and it was a really good game."

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

The 35-year-old said she decided to take up the whistle after realising the women's game was growing.

"I'm really proud that I've achieved what I set out to achieve.

"Three years ago, I set the goal of wanting to referee men's first-class rugby and at the time, I wasn't sure if it was achievable.

"But I've had faith put in me and really enjoyed it."

Rebecca Mahoney controlled a Heartland Championship match between Thames Valley and King Country. Source: 1 NEWS


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'This is bigger than boxing' – SBW motivated by charity ahead of next fight

All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams says his next jaunt into the boxing ring is all about charity, rather than his reputation within the sport.

Williams, 33, will fight Australian reality TV star Stu 'The Bachelor' Laundy in Sydney on December 1, with all funds raised to go aid homeless in Australia and New Zealand.

Speaking to media in Auckland today, Williams revealed his motivation for the bout.

"This is bigger than boxing," he began.

"I'm just humbled by Stu and Max (Markson, promoter) coming to me and asking if I want to be a part of it.

"Understanding that Bill Crews (of the Exodus Foundation) and the Auckland City Mission have big parts to play in that, that's what we're trying to do and raise funds for."

The All Blacks star will face Stu 'The Bachelor' Laundy on December 1. Source: 1 NEWS