It certainly says something about the quality of Kiwi rugby players when one of them goes from playing club football to working in the mines in Western Australia, to a brief stint with the now defunct Western Force, to the Melbourne Rebels to an opportunity to play for the Wallabies at the representative level.
All it required of Anaru Rangi was to abstain from mid-week beers. Wait. What? We toss that out as though it were easy to accomplish, although some of us who partake of the amber fluid only on days of the week ending in the word “day” recognise the sort of devotion to code Rangi exhibits as occupying the realm of the miraculous.
The 29-year-old Wellington native is now the rake of choice for Rebels Coach Dave Wessels.
It would seem that Rangi has one final hurdle if his transformation from playing club footy for the Upper Hutt Rams to senior grade football would be an All Blacks jersey, but that might necessitate the return of the mid-week beers. Could he return to New Zealand to wear the black, should he indeed make it to the Wallabies? Is such a thing possible, or would he be burned in effigy in every village and hamlet of both islands?
Rangi did far more than drop the drink. He dropped 20 kg by changing his eating habits. He does have some amount of talent to summon, also, as he was able to secure a spot on the Wellington Development Squad before seeking steady pay as a miner.
“I’m a bit of a late bloomer as [Rebels coach] Dave Wessels likes to call me,” Rangi told AAP.I never really took rugby seriously until I moved to Perth and left a few mates behind in New Zealand and actually gave it a good crack so I owe a lot to the Australian system for giving me a shot.”
Despite those heretical remarks, Rangi’s story is one that makes us feel genuinely good, so we hope to see him flourish, even if it does involve playing for the Aussie national side.