Ex All Black backs 'Kaino like' 19 y/o for England's World Cup squad
By Rugby Onslaught

Ex All Black backs ‘Kaino like’ 19 y/o for England’s World Cup squad

As a back row, there are not many better players to be compared to than two time World Cup winner Jerome Kaino. And coming from a player that played alongside the No6, it only makes the compliment more impressive.

A comparison like that means there is a lot of hype already about Exeter Chiefs’ 19-year-old Greg Fisilau, who made his Gallagher Premiership debut on Saturday against Saracens at the StoneX Stadium. It came from Malakai Fekitoa, who was a teammate of Fisilau’s at Wasps before moving to Munster last summer. The 109kg back row made the move to the Chiefs after Wasps went into administration, and made an impressive debut against the league leaders.

Though the Chiefs were comprehensively beaten 35-3, the 19-year-old put in a huge defensive display, topping his side’s tackling charts with 23 tackles. In fact, he made more tackles than second and third place combined. A defensive shift like that is very Kaino-esque.

Not only did Fekitoa compare the England under-20 back row to the All Blacks great, but he backed him to make England’s World Cup squad later this year. With a coaching change at England with Steve Borthwick replacing Eddie Jones, there might be a chance for the Chiefs loose forward to impress the new coach over the coming months.

Fekitoa wrote on Twitter: “What a player. Should be in the England team this RWC and the next 2. Kaino like.”

In a team of legendary players that won the World Cup in 2011 and 2015, Kaino was up there with Richie McCaw and Dan Carter as an all time great. Perhaps he is the player the All Blacks have struggled to replace the most since he retired from international rugby in 2017, as his absence has certainly been felt since then.