TMQB: The unbearable sadness of Vaea Fifita
Thanks, in no small part to pointless missives like this, Vaea Fifita-mania shows little sign of abating.
This is what happens when a player scores a fully decent try against half-decent opposition in a below par match on his All Blacks run on debut.
It is through no fault of Fifita’s, we must remember, that his good game of rugby has elevated this softly spoken, shy Tongan to instant superstar status.
Fifita, to the best of this column’s knowledge, didn’t ring up the editor of the Herald and request publication of a 15-things-you-must-know about Vaea Fifita listicle. And, while he wasn’t doing that, he didn’t ask if the opening sentence could compare him to Jonah Lomu.
The reason Fifita didn’t do any of that is that he knows full well the greatest moment in his sports career actually happened almost exactly a year before he scorched the Argentine cover defence in New Plymouth.
Fifita knows deep down that he’ll never top that moment, as does Piers Francis, the poor bugger who gets vaulted by a man with no pole.
TMQB sources claim that Francis, who has now relocated to Northampton, was spotted deep in conversation with his travel agent during the half-time break of that match between Counties and Wellington.
The Herald rates Fifita’s hurdle as only the 13th most pressing thing you must know about him, just below the fact that he likes playing Playstation. Incredibly, we didn’t make up that bit.
Much has been made of Fifita being a man of few words. This has been primarily attributed to shyness. Of course, the real reason is that, as he well knows, there simply isn’t much to say.
The greatest moment of his career has come and gone. Mere words will not change that. No number of scorching 40m tries for the All Blacks will displace the melancholy that comes with knowing you’ve already peaked in life; that you've boldly gone where others cannot or will not tread. And that Steve Hansen has insisted you cut that shit out of your game.
Speaking of Fifitas and infinite sadness, Vaea’s cousin Andrew, the Cronulla Sharks enforcer, will be dealing with a mild bummer of his own following Sunday’s NRL finals elimination at the hands of the Cowboys.
The try-scoring hero of Cronulla’s 2016 grand final victory over the Storm just over a year ago, Fifita produced a rousing “we got this” speech (captured in all its glory by the broadcaster’s mics) in the moments prior to the five-minutes each way of extra time that decided Sunday’s classic encounter.
The key to victory, he pointed out somewhat forcefully to his team mates, was to run hard and straight.
Few among us can claim to have always followed our own sage advice. The more fortunate among us have at least avoided having the hollowness of our words exposed during a live television broadcast.
Not so poor Andrew.
With time up on the clock and James Maloney in perfect position for a game-tying field goal, Fifita set off on a limp, weaving sideways run that concluded with a bumbled forward pass that sealed the Cowboys’ shock victory.
Fifita will still be hurting. But he will at least find some solace in the fact that he isn’t Piers Francis.