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Ronaldo Seumanufagai back at Ories and working hard in 2023

Ronaldo Seumanufagai playing against Paremata-Plimmerton last Saturday. PHOTO: Stewart Baird. 

Former St Pat’s Town captain Ronaldo Seumanufagai made 26 Premier appearances for Oriental-Rongotai in 2020 and 2021, before shifting to Southland last year for a season.

He has returned to Wellington and Ories in 2023, and Huddy Sports caught up with him for a chat on Wednesday night.

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Ories struggled to launch their set piece attack against a committed Paremata-Plimmerton, who led them 21-5 at halftime and held on to win 21-17.

Seumanufagai said Paremata-Plimmerton played a committed brand of rugby, aided by their vocal home crowd close to the action.

“It’s always tough playing at Ngati Toa Domain, especially on the clubrooms side of the field, and we could hear their supporters getting louder and louder over the final 10 minutes when they could sense their win, ” he reflected.

In the first week, Ories beat the Wellington Axemen 72-15.

Ronaldo Seumanufagai playing against the Wellington Axemen in week one. PHOTO: David Brownlie Photos

This coming Saturday they play Wainuiomata at William Jones Park, another tough game for the Magpies.

Seumanufagai said the loss to the Hammerheads was tough, but it’s a long season so there’s plenty of time to gel. There are also some new and returning players at the club this year as well as himself.

“Dominic Ropeti has brought a lot to our forward pack since transferring across from Old Boys University, Daniel Tafili has returned from the Axemen and debuted for us last Saturday, plus we also have some Colts players who could come through this year.”

Halfback Issac Bracewell has returned after missing most of last season as he was playing in the Hawke’s Bay.

What about [200-game prop and former captain] Whetu Henry? “He’s officially retired, but maybe later in the season he might come back!”

Seumanufagai made his debut against Paremata-Plimmerton in 2020 and scored a try that day as Ories won 49-10.

“It was awesome to be named at openside flanker that Thursday at training, but seeing who I was playing alongside at No. 8 was special as it was Ardie Savea.”

After making his debut alongside the best in the business straight out of school and playing the next two seasons for Ories, Seumanufagai moved to Gore and joined the Pioneer club. How did that come about?

“One of the boys approached me about going down and having a crack. At first I was reluctant but thought about it and so headed down to Southland. It was a great experience, and I was lucky enough to gain an Academy contract and was in their PDU programme for the season.”

Seumanufagai was also introduced to the hunting culture in Southland, so he partook in some duck shooting and hunting which was a new experience for the boy from Wellington’s eastern suburbs.

A core reason for his return to Wellington was to complete his design and innovation studies, which he is back doing at Victoria University.

One of Seumanufagai’s key attributes is that he can play either of the loose forward positions.

“When I was at college, I played No. 8, but I got put at openside when I joined Ories [and one Ardie Savea was playing there in his first game, see above], but I have been playing six lately because that is where the coaches want me – but I don’t really mind where I am playing.”

Seumanufagai started as an Ories junior, aged seven. He then went to St Pat’s Town and was captain of the First XV in his final year.

“It was a good challenge for me to get out of my comfort zone and to lead the team on to the field each game. We had a lot of young talent coming through that year such as Siale Lauaki, Bradley Crichton and Christian Stenhouse and I saw much of my job was to create the environment for these players to grow and shine.”

Wellington College is one of Town’s main traditional opponents each year. “I was lucky enough to win against Wellington College in my last two years. That whole week the pressure builds up towards game day and it’s always tough playing against them. In 2018, it was Keelan Whitman who inspired us to win and in 2019 is was cousin Herman Seumanufagai whose individual performance won us the game.

St Pat’s Town after their comeback 31-26 win over Wellington College in 2018. Photo: Andy McArthur. 

The Seumanufagai surname is well known in Wellington school and now club rugby.

Cousin Herman is currently in Australia playing rugby league, cousin Jason is playing for Ories and is also in the Premier squad and Ronaldo’s younger brother Salesa finished at St Pat’s Town last year and has now joined Ories and is with the Colts.

This weekend, Ories travel to play Wainuiomata at William Jones Park, kick-off 2.45pm.

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