Campbell Burnes talks to a new fulltime pro hoping to flourish in a new team and a new city. (Pages 48-50)
Lincoln McClutchie is a tad nervous about coming to live in Auckland, a Covid-19 hotspot.
That is understandable for a Hawke’s Bay lad. When Rugby News caught up with the Magpies No 10, he was just finishing his NPC season review, sorting his second vaccine jab and sourcing a rental for him and his partner.
But the excitement is palpable in his voice about starting work as a fulltime professional for Moana Pasifika. At 22, this opportunity might have come earlier for the Hurricanes after the departure of Beauden Barrett, but he was unlucky.
In 2021, there was nothing lucky about his promotion. He was one of the form first fives of the NPC, alongside Josh Ioane of Otago, Brett Cameron of Manawatu, Mitch Hunt of Tasman and, latterly, D’Angelo Leuila of Waikato.
McClutchie is Maori and carries no Pasifika blood, whereas Leuila is a Test player for Manu Samoa, but one would have to think McClutchie was signed and sealed as the ninth name for Moana Pasifika before Leuila’s late run of form. It has stirred some debate on social media. McClutchie and halfback Ere Enari are not Pasifika and there are two palagis in the pack, locks Mike McKee and Alex McRobbie, the latter who has Niuean blood. It’s not, however, something that keeps McClutchie up at night.
It matters not. McClutchie deserves his spot on the roster, alongside the veteran former Wallaby Christian Lealiifano and Tasman’s back-up pivot William Havili, brother of All Black David Havili.
McClutchie will benefit from working with head coach Aaron Mauger, a man who, though better known as a second five, wore the No 10 at international level for the All Blacks.
Continue this story in our December 2021 – January 2022 issue.