CURRENT CLUB: Wasps
JOINED: June 2021 (from Hurricanes)
POSITION: Flanker, lock
NATIONALITY: New Zealand
Wasps have been in desperate need of some fresh attacking legs, as they continue to rebuild after a disappointing 2020/2021. With that in mind, Vaea Fifita looks to be a really exciting player who can give them part of what they were missing last season, as this analysis will demonstrate.
This image shows Vaea Fifita receiving the ball and instantly looking to move forwards. He possesses plenty of natural pace, and his carries are often devastating for opponents as a result, gaining his side plenty of ground.
He never seems to be afraid of defenders, often beating them with relative ease, and this is yet another aspect of his game that Wasps will benefit from. The English Premiership has some strong defences, and Fifita could be key in finding ways through them.
Whilst he scores a lot of tries, he is eventually met on this occasion by an Argentinian defender, who ends his attack. However, his awareness allows him to set up New Zealand full-back Damian McKenzie, in the yellow circle, who scores the try, and this ability to make good offloads is something else he will bring to Wasps’ tactics next season.
The other thing Wasps fans need to know about Vaea Fifita is that he is often the first in line to receive the ball. Here, whilst playing for Wellington-based Hurricanes against now-dissolved Japanese team Sunwolves in Super Rugby, the short pass from his teammate gives him as much time as possible to decide where to make his move. He can change the direction of his runs too, with the black arrow illustrating his slightly inward run here, with Sunwolves not expecting this and therefore unable to stop him running through them.
Vaea Fifita has the same qualities and playing style as Bristol Bears and Fiji back Semi Radradra, in that he has pace, quality, power and a try-scoring ability. However, as Radradra is a winger or centre, a better like-for-like comparison is to fellow Wasps player Alfie Barbeary, who has been one of Wasps’ best young players in recent years.
Given what we have seen in this player profile, Vaea Fifita will excite the Ricoh Arena faithful, and is a really positive signing for them ahead of next season.