Over the past 20 years, many players have worn the blue jersey after arriving from New Zealand
Italy is approaching – all blacks, after all New Zealand for the past twenty years has been a part of the blue destiny. Not only in defeats – sometimes painful, others less so – but also in the contribution this country has made to rugby.
Since entering the Six Nations until today, many New Zealanders have worn the blue jersey internationally. Some of these have also amassed quite a few appearances, hence there is Dean Budd who has even worn the captain’s armband on three occasions. In light of Saturday’s match, Things Remember all the New Zealanders who played for Italy.
Aaron Persico (56 caps, two destinations, 2000-2006)
Born in New Zealand but of Italian ancestry (the family was from Massa Lubrense), he was the first New Zealander to represent Italy by kinship. He also played against the All Blacks in the 2003 World Cup, where he participated in 56 matches in total. In the palm also two championships (with Vidana and Calvisano) and two Italian Cups, always with Vidana.
Matt Phillips (14 caps, 3 metti, 2002-2003)
The first New Zealander to play for Italy thanks to residency criteria: he scored against the All Blacks in the aforementioned World Challenge in 2003. At Bel Paese, he also won the Scudetto with Viadana and two Italian Cups.
Scott Palmer (12 caps, 2 meta 2002-04).
Essentially, Palmer was No. 8, making his debut in 2002 with John Kirwan on the bench, which also took him to the World Championships. In Italy he won 5 league titles, 4 with Benetton Treviso and one with Petrarca.
Rima Wakarwa (11 caps, 15 turns, 22 penalties, 2003-2005).
With 99 points, he is the top scorer in blue coming from New Zealand. Also selected for the 2003 World Cup, he also played in his first year with Berbizier on the bench, before leaving the national team.
Paul Griffin (42 caps, 1 attempt, 1 turn, 1 penalty, 2004-09).
The half-scrum’s blue adventure began in 2004: he was surprisingly left out of the squad for the 2007 World Cup, but he also capped the national team shirt at the 2009 Six Nations Championship. He still lives and works in Italy today, he played for 14 years at Calvisano (which He won four league titles with him) and is today the technical commentator for franchise games, first on Dazn and now on Mediaset. He also commented on the Italian national team matches in the Autumn Cup 2020.
Kane Robertson (47 caps, 14 meta, 2004-10).
Ala or ultra, in 2004 he wore the national team shirt for the first time. Many years in Vidana – he won the Scudetto in 2002 – and some satisfaction with Italy. In particular, he is remembered for the two attempts recorded in the historic 2007 victories against Scotland and Wales.
Yosh Sule (47 caps, 4 kills, 2005-11)
Born in Hamilton to an Italian mother and Scottish father, he grew up playing rugby in New Zealand before moving to Italy and wearing Vidana, Ironi and Zepre shirts. He made his debut with the Azzurri national team in 2005 against Argentina, then also played in the 2007 World Cup. With Vidana he won the Italian Cup and the Italian Super Cup.
KELLY HAIMONA (11 tests, 7 offenses, 17 pens, 2014-2016)
He arrived in Italy to play for Lyon, then went to Calvisano – with whom he won the championship – and then to Zipre. He made his debut in 2014 in the blue jersey against Samoa (and scored 14 points), fired by Brunel, playing in the 2015 Six Nations, but then gradually slips off the radar, closed by the arrival of Carlo Cana and Tommaso Allan.
Dean Baud (29 caps, 2 dead, 2017-20).
The second and third rows are of high quality: he arrived in Treviso in 2012, and he will also be captain of the Benetton team. He made his debut in the national team in 2017 and in a short time became one of the reference points, as he wore the captain’s armband on 3 occasions, in particular in the victory over Canada in the 2019 World Cup, and also scored a goal. He also has time to play the first part of the 2020 Six Nations Championship, which was then halted due to a pandemic, before retiring.
Jayden Hayward (27 caps, 1 meta, 2017-20)
A first-class player and high quality, but he played a key role if needed, as in the 2019 World Cup. In New Zealand he wears the Hurricanes and Highlanders jerseys, then he always plays for the Western Power in Super Rugby. In 2014, he arrived in Treviso and received the keys to the back section of the Lions, with whom he played 96 matches and won the Rainbow Cup in 2021. He made his debut in the national team in 2017 and is almost always present until 2020, when he decides to retire from international tests .
New Zealand coaches
Not only on the field, but also on the bench. Kieran Crowley is actually the third New Zealand coach to lead the Italian national team. Before him, Brad Johnston led Italy from 2000 to 2002, winning against Scotland and then losing 14 matches, before passing the baton to John Kirwan who took the reins until 2005.
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