Former Canterbury Bull charges into CQ Capras
RUGBY LEAGUE: Family, friends and a partner back in New Zealand, the switch to the Intrust Super Cup was not an easy call for Phil Nati.
But the former Canterbury Bull turned Capras' newest centre said his decision was one of opportunity.
Coach Kim Williams' connections to the Christchurch club lined up with Nati's desire to challenge himself in what he says is a more "technical, speedy game” than back home.
"The speed back at home is not as quick as over here and not as technical,” the 25-year-old said.
"And that's why I wanted to come over here, to learn and get that experience again.
"I've still got another five, six years left in my playing career, it was just a natural progression that I come over and challenge it and learn a little bit more about the game before I finish up.”
Straight off the plane and into his first training session yesterday, Nati said he was already settling in with his new environment, team and coach.
Not deterred by the heat, Nati said the temperature was a pleasant reminder of his home country, Samoa.
Likely the Capras' last signing for 2016, Williams said the 192cm, 105kg import brings the maturity and experience his relatively young side need in 2017.
"He's a player I've known of for quite a while and followed him over his last couple of seasons in New Zealand,” Williams said of the centre and second rower.
"And a quality player, he's had a very good 2016 playing for the Canterbury Bulls and then making the New Zealand Residents side which is a great achievement.
"So he brings a lot to our squad... his size and speed and strength are his obvious qualities, but off the field as well he has a pretty outstanding work CV and great leadership qualities, and is a player I think we need in our squad with those sorts of qualities.”
From Nati's perspective, he expects his natural footwork will trip up the defence.
"I like to run off a really good half and good hole and play through the line,” he said.
"When given the opportunity I can put some other players in space as well and just have natural footwork, I tend to find I work better on the left side than the right side and my footwork can kind of cause a bit of havoc for defences if I really play well on that day,” he said.
The Capras' partnership with the NRL's Titans also caused a "buzz” back home for Nati, and he said it factored into his long-term goal.
"It just kind of gives another opportunity, if I play well and more doors open,” he said.
"It's good to know the Titans are there as a long term goal, but first and foremost is about trying to get a starting position and trying to put my best foot forward.”