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Hiku article

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by Kiwi Eagle, Jun 9, 2013.

  1. Kiwi Eagle

    Kiwi Eagle Moderator Staff Member 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +3,870 /65
    From the papers over here this morning, good article this one. I didn't know Choc had put 1 on his chin lol

    Unexpected turns for Manly fullback Hiku

    Peta Hiku is becoming adept at making the best of a bad situation.

    The 20-year-old switched from rugby to league when his brother was seriously injured in a car accident in Gisborne six years ago and now, after the New Zealand Warriors potentially dropped the ball, their former under-20s star is deputising for star Manly fullback Brett Stewart.

    Hiku returns to Mt Smart Stadium today when the Sea Eagles attempt to consolidate a place in the NRL's top four.

    His priority is to ensure Stewart's class isn't missed, then catch up with his girls and the sibling who inadvertently put him on the path to professional football.

    William Hiku is still recovering from the trauma associated with a crash that required the family to relocate from the East Coast to Auckland, as he embarked on a long road to recovery.

    "When I went up there the only people I knew were my cousins and they played league.

    "I had a go and loved it," said Hiku, as he contemplated an emotional homecoming.

    His brother is slowly making progress: "He's coming along well, he's come a long way" - and the same could be said for Hiku's career, despite it playing out in isolation from partner Faith and two-year-old daughter Ada Jane.

    Hiku made his debut when David Williams was unable to play on the wing against Cronulla in mid-April, and when Stewart's back was injured two games later against St George Illawarra, coach Geoff Toovey challenged Hiku to fill in for the 167-game NRL veteran.

    The Junior Kiwi was never expected to resemble a former Kangaroos and NSW representative with a superb strike rate of 128 first grade tries, so Hiku is relatively satisfied with his handling of a difficult assignment.

    He made his first appearance at fullback against a Sydney Roosters side armed with the kicking games of NSW Origin halves Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney; next up was the Melbourne Storm and their array of representative stars.

    Hiku never imagined 18 months ago he would be on the same field as Billy Slater, defusing Cooper Cronk's bombs.

    "I was just focused on trying to make the Warriors under-20s. I didn't think I'd make that, so I was rapt to be here," he said.

    Hiku made his National Youth Competition debut in round four, and was a fixture since that game, slotting in at fullback, wing and then at the back end of the season in the halves, before he was named the team's player of the year.

    The presence of Kevin Locke, Glen Fisiiahi and Carlos Tuimavave - among others - on the Warriors first-grade roster meant his career advancement was likely to be blocked at Mt Smart, so when Manly made a two-season offer midway through 2012, Hiku seized the opportunity.

    "The Warriors came in later on but Manly was first. I got so excited I took it," he said, revealing only one regret.

    Crossing the Tasman to Sydney's northern beaches meant leaving Faith and their little girl behind in Auckland, though he hopes the family unit will be reunited by kick-off in 2014.

    "I ring home every night and before the game when I can," he said. "To hear my partner and my little girl. Those calls are what really keeps me going.

    "It's pretty tough but it helps that Faith understands I'm trying to get enough money together to bring them over."

    Until then, Hiku is in a house share with four other players, including former Warriors junior Ligi Sao.

    A club-appointed house mother cooks for them most nights, while in the team environment Joe Galuvao has been a source of support for Hiku, who also played for the veteran's Auckland club, Manurewa Marlins.

    Hiku arrived at Brookvale expecting the NSW Cup to be his testing ground but Stewart's back problems accelerated his education process.

    "I was just happy to be signed to a first-grade team, then hopefully get more experience off Brett Stewart. It's panned out all right."

    Stewart has also been a key mentor for Hiku and gives him a last-minute pep talk when Manly are playing at home.

    "He's there on game day helping me out with the position . . . telling me to talk louder on defence and on attack to choose who I want to run off.

    "It's a big pair of boots to fill. It helps the boys have a lot of experience, they tip me in a lot."

    Hiku was understandably anxious running on against the Sharks, though a try on debut - and two competition points - made it a memorable experience.

    And now, as his fifth appearance looms, Hiku is feeling more comfortable in the role.

    "It's quick and physical but as the games go on you get used to it.

    "No one is going to take it soft on you," he said, soon after realising his team-mates were also in that category.

    In the dying stages of Manly's most recent outing, against Canberra on May 25, Hiku copped some "friendly fire" from Anthony Watmough as the Sea Eagles' enforcer traded blows with Dane Tilse.

    "I tried to stop it," he said, grinning, "and he got me on the chin."

    - © Fairfax NZ News

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