Wainui thriving on early chance

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Lynn McConnell     19 Feb 2016     Getty Images

The talented mid-fielder told he was on 'rocket nine' at the moment and feeling 'sky high' with the opportunity he had been provided.

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He said on his anticipated programme, Super Rugby was probably another three or four years down the track.

"The call [to sign with the Crusaders] came through about halfway through the ITM Cup and ever since I've been stoked. I signed up and the rest is history. I love it.

"At first it was a bit different but I've adjusted to it and people are good and the coaches are awesome," Wainui said.

Originally from Gisborne, he was brought up in Auckland where he attended Mt Albert Grammar and Takapuna Grammar. He played for New Zealand Under-20 and the Maori All Blacks.

"Straight out of school there was an opportunity to go and play club rugby in Taranaki and to go to the Academy down there," he said.

That brought him under the influence of Colin Cooper and Wainui appreciated the input the coach has had into his career.

"He was massive, he gave me the confidence that I can play, that I've got the ability. When someone like that tells you something you listen and I took it on board straight away, and all the coaches at the Academy and all the trainers there are awesome," Wainui said.

Exposure to provincial rugby with Taranaki had been vital and while the season's defence of their national title had not been the result they wanted they had finished well and would be looking to do well again this year.

But getting picked up by the Crusaders had been an unexpected accelerant to his career.

It also allowed him to follow in the footsteps of a relation he looked up to during his younger days, former All Black and Crusader Rico Gear.

"I love it [being part of the Crusaders]. At first it was a bit different but I've adjusted to it and people are good and the coaches are awesome.

"The respect everyone gives us - being a Crusader you get the respect automatically - and while there's been the McCaws and Carters, you've also got the Daggs, the Reads and the Whitelocks that are still there helping us young boys along so it's opened my ears up and I've been listening to all the advice," he said.

"I've been playing pre-season in the mid-field so I've got to keep trucking along and hopefully next week get a shot. I like both centres, they're both different," he said.