Super Rugby
Chiefs rookie eyeing SBW centre pairing
ESPN Staff
January 8, 2015
Seta Tamanivalu is hoping to play outside-centre at the Chiefs © Getty Images

The Chiefs could field one of the most powerful midfield combinations ever seen in Super Rugby should they decide to make Seta Temanivalu's dream come true and partner the rookie centre with Sonny Bill Williams.

The code-hopping superstar fronted the media for the first time on Tuesday after returning to Hamilton for his second stint with the two-time champions, insisting there is plenty of competition for spots in a squad many have tipped to win this year's title.

Williams is a lock to reprise the No.12 role he was so dominant in back in 2012 but the decision on who plays outside the former NRL star is still very much up in the air. Coach Dave Rennie has experienced duo Charlie Ngatai and Tim Nanai-Williams to call on but he may well yet opt for rookie Tamanivalu; one of the standout players in last year's ITM Cup.

"This is a big step for me from ITM Cup to Super Rugby - it's way different - but my goal is to get a spot in the starting line-up," Tamanivalu told the Waikato Times. "It's going to be tough for me as a player to get ahead of those boys, especially when they've been playing for so long at Super level. So, for me in my first year, it's still a learning curve but it's good to have them around me to help me as well."

At 104kg and 1.89m, Tamanivalu would form a fearsome midfield duo with Williams - whom he idolised growing up back in Fiji.

"It's going to be a special moment for me to get a start and to play with Sonny. He was my favourite player when I was young, growing up in Fiji," he said. "I looked up to him and I never expected I'd end up playing in the same team as him so it's a massive thing for me."

Rennie, who led the Chiefs in their twin successes of 2012 and 2013, said he was blessed with a number of different options in the centres but was yet to decide on the right fit.

"There's the chance to play a big guy and a quick guy together and some variation around that but playing two big guys together is certainly an option," he said. "Seta was fantastic during the ITM Cup and with his ability to offload and Sonny's ability to offload and with Charlie and Tim offering a point of difference as electric players, a big guy creating a bit of space for them can also cause problems [for the opposition]."

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