Malakai Fekitoa playing for the All Blacks
|Birth name||Malakai Fonokalafi Fekitoa|
|Date of birth||10 May 1992|
|Place of birth||Ha'apai, Tonga|
|Height||189 cm (6 ft 2 in)|
|Weight||99 kg (15.6 st; 218 lb)|
Liahona High School
|Rugby union career|
Malakai Fonokalafi Fekitoa (born 10 May 1992) is a Tongan born New Zealand rugby union player who plays as a second five-eighth or centre. He currently plays for Wasps. He played for the Highlanders in the Super Rugby competition, for Auckland in the ITM Cup, and for New Zealand internationally. He was a member of the title-winning 2015 Highlanders side, and of the 2015 Rugby World Cup winning New Zealand side.
He made his debut for Auckland in the ITM Cup in 2012, making 12 appearances and scoring 3 tries, and was signed by the Blues for the 2013 season. However, he only made one appearance in 2013 for the Blues against France,[circular reference]and signed with the Highlanders for the 2014 Super Rugby season. He was a key member of the Highlanders title winning-side in 2015. In July 2017, Fekitoa confirmed that he had signed a two-year contract with French Top 14 side Toulon. In January 2019, it was announced that Fekitoa had signed for English Premiership Rugby side Wasps from the beginning of the 2019-20 season.
Fekitoa was only eligible for selection for the All Blacks after completing three years post-education residency in New Zealand. After completing his residency period, he was selected as a rookie in the All Blacks squad for the June 2014 test series against England, with coach Steve Hansen having signalled interest in him during the Super Rugby season. He made his debut as a replacement player in first test of that series, a 15-20 win. With first-choice centre Conrad Smith injured out of the third and final test of the series, Fekitoa moved into the starting XV. His performance earned praise, with the Herald on Sunday saying that "the All Blacks coach has found the most elegant of solutions for Conrad Smith's back-up, one who carries more of an attacking threat than the veteran centre".
Fekitoa was selected again in 2014 for the All Blacks squad for The Rugby Championship. He was originally named as a reserve for the first test against Australia, however, with Conrad Smith and his wife expecting, Fekitoa was called up into the starting XV. He was a member of the 2015 Rugby World Cup winning New Zealand side.[circular reference]
Fekitoa became a regular starter for the All Blacks in 2016, combining with Ryan Crotty to form the midfield partnership for the Wales series in June. Fekitoa began to experience very erratic form however, and did not play against Argentina and South Africa that year. Fekitoa lost his starting spot to Anton Lienert-Brown, coming off the bench for the final Bledisloe Cup and the first Ireland fixture that year. Fekitoa re-gained his starting spot for the next two tests due to Crotty being injured, with Lienert Brown moving to inside centre so that Fekitoa could play outside centre. Fekitoa scored 2 tries in two games, the All Blacks were against Italy and Ireland. Fekitoa was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle against Ireland, so was cited and suspended for the final test match of the year.
Fekitoa was not initially selected for the All Blacks in 2017 for the British and Irish Lions Tour but was called up for the third test match after Sonny Bill Williams was issued a red card for a shoulder block hit on Anthony Watson of the Lions in the second test match. Fekitoa played his final test match for New Zealand on 8 July 2017 in the final test against the Lions, coming off the bench to replace Ngani Laumape.