Sunday, December 30, 2012

Adongo now a Southern King

Chris Omollo | Nation New Zealand’s Manukau County loose forward Daniel Adongo during his work-out at the RFUEA ground in Nairobi at the weekend. Adongo will turn out for Port Elizabeth’s Southern Kings in South Africa’s Eastern Cape in Super Rugby.

Chris Omollo | Nation New Zealand’s Manukau County loose forward Daniel Adongo during his work-out at the RFUEA ground in Nairobi at the weekend. Adongo will turn out for Port Elizabeth’s Southern Kings in South Africa’s Eastern Cape in Super Rugby. 

By AYUMBA AYODI sayodi@ke.nationmedia.com

Daniel Adongo’s dream of playing Super Rugby will soon come to fruition when the burly Kenyan forward turns out for Port Elizabeth’s Southern Kings in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province next season.

The 23-year-old, who is based at Counties Manukau, New Zealand, has signed for Kings for the 2013 Super Rugby season that gets under way on February 15 culminating with the final on August 3.

Adongo is returning to the Southern Africa nation where he ditched another Super Rugby side Blue Bulls in July.

He will head back to Counties Manukau after the Super Rugby ready for the National Provincial Championship popularly known as ITM Cup Premier League that starts late August to early November.

The Super Rugby involves 15 teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa while the ITM Cup is the highest level of New Zealand domestic professional rugby union competition, contested annually.

“I am so delighted that I should realise my dream of playing in Super Rugby after only having played for Blue Bulls in build up towards the 2012 Super Rugby,” said Adongo, who has been in the country for the Christmas holidays and is due to leave for Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.  

Adongo described his relocation to New Zealand from South Africa as “an effective campaign” and “a good decision” and is now is now looking into a bright rugby future.

“My first season with the Counties has been superb and eventful, having been part of the team that won the Championship,” said Adongo.

Counties Manukau beat Otago 41-16 to qualify for the ITM Cup Premiership at the end of October.

The victory secured Counties Manukau’s first piece of silverware since winning the old second division in 1993. 

New style of playing

“I went to New Zealand with high expectations and for sure it has been fulfilled by winning the Championship final,” said Adongo, who is reluctant to discuss his engagement with Counties Manukau and Southern Kings.

Adongo explained that few people gave them not chance against Otago that had three All Blacks side coming from the tour.

“We just held our own after most people didn’t expect us to go far. We believed in ourselves and ability, the boys brought out their character,” who can bench-press 180kgs.

Since moving to New Zealand, Adongo reckoned that he has learnt a new style of playing quick rugby besides developing more skills and sharpening them up. 

Adongo, who started off on the wing, before his mentor Rudolph Straeuli lured him to flanker said he opted to New Zealand after lack of airtime with Blues Bulls. 

“I was looking for an opportunity to play and showcase my skills and I definitely got that in New Zealand and that has benefited me as a player and going forward,” said Adongo.

Adongo, who stands 1.98m tall and weigh 115 kilogrammes, explained that what is unique with New Zealand compared to South Africa from a forward’s perspective is that their game is less direct hence the ball is in play longer.

“The forwards in New Zealand are better with their balls skills and attacking space and are better decision makers and it’s exciting. I am not putting the forwards of South Africa down but their style of rugby there is more directly.”

Adongo, who acknowledged facing a dilemma over whether to play for Kenya, South Africa or New Zealand said his best moments in New Zealand, was bonding with his new teammates. Interestingly, Adongo spends his free time pig-hunting and fishing while in New Zealand.

“That was the highlight of my stay there since the friendship that I have developed will go for many years,” said Adongo, who was an instant hit owing to his beefy structure.

“I just couldn’t afford to get stuck in the sideshows since I had to be professional do what was expected of me,” said Adongo, who can bench-press 180kgs.

About playing for any of the three countries, Adongo said while it was an added advantage, it’s a great but difficulty decision that he should make in the near future.

“It’s a decision I have to make soonest possible and move forward,” said Adongo, who played for Kenya Under-19 and Under-21.

“When opportunity meets preparation you are unstoppable. Always prepare for the opportunity and never ever think that opportunity won’t present itself,” said Adongo adding there are heaps of rugby talent in Kenya that needs to be nurtured.

Adongo advised Kenyan rugby players to chance their dreams.

“Let that opportunity get them when they are ready and not start the preparation when the chance has come.”

Interestingly, Adongo spend his free time pig-hunting and fishing while in New Zealand.

“I just decided to get off rugby for a change and I am lucky to have gotten good people from three diverse cultures in Kenya, South Africa and New Zealand.”