Leicester Fainga'anuku on the Crusaders edge: 'Pressure is a lifestyle'
Leicester Fainga’anuku stepped into the Crusaders environment a powerful, promising young talent, and has since departed as one of the world’s most destructive backs.
Toulon’s new recruit may be just 24 years of age, but with a handful of Super Rugby titles under his belt, Rugby World Cup experience and tutorage from some of the great talents and rugby minds the game has to offer, Fainga’anuku is already primed for greatness.
Embarking on his next challenge, Fainga’anuku revels in the competition of playing the best of the best. But before he left for the sunny coastline of Southern France, he reflected on how he made it to this point and the people who have helped him.
“Coming in my first year and looking for a repeat, man we had some household names; Ryan Crotty, Kieran Read, Luke Romano and the list goes on,” he said in an interview with the Crusaders YouTube channel. “I think being such a youngster, getting the opportunity to work alongside the amount of talent and experience in that room really meant a lot for me. It’s second to none being able to learn off players like that so it was definitely a special time.
“The first thing I learned was how well this franchise deals with pressure, it’s a common saying you know, pressure’s a privilege. For me at a young age, the first thing I learnt about being in this environment was that pressure, for this team, was a lifestyle. Something we grew to love and enjoy being in the heat of.
“From the early stages of my career, I have been fortunate to have two special brothers, up in Tasman at the time. The Goodman brothers, Chris Goodman, Andrew Goodman – who actually coached down here a few years ago. I was real fortunate at a young age, they’re two massive icons of my life that I really looked up to, for them to put me under the wings was something special.
“So going up the ranks I had Andrew Goodman as something of a mentor on the field, helping with my skills, training-wise. Anything game-related.
“And then on the other side, I have Chris Goodman who has helped me alongside I guess, building me into a good man. Making sure I nailed everything off-field because to be a successful athlete, you can only do and win so much on the field, but I think the major gains you get to be able to succeed on the field is what you do off the field.
“I’ve had some awesome coaches here on the Crusaders. Man where do I even begin; Ronan O’Gara, obviously Andrew Goodman and now over the last few years with Tamati Ellison, Scott Hansen and Razor.
“They’re not your everyday coach, where they can come across as coaches or similar to coaches you’ve had before. But I think with these guys, they’re who they are and I think that’s what makes it so special, you really love that. It sort of makes you open up who you are as a person too. And that’s one thing about the Crusaders, everyone can be who they are and you know it’s not something we shy away from, it’s something we embrace.
“I think Razor’s right up there in my eyes, just the way he goes about his work. But most of all, the way he’s able to influence a player not only on field but off field, I guess just to bring the best out of themselves.
“And when you’re enjoying every day, it shows on the field and that’s something he nails and I’m truly grateful.”
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