THE entire Orange City side has been impressive this season, but if you’ve been at a Lions game, there are probably three players who caught your eye.
Tongans Mesui Lemoto, Tatafu Na’aniumotu and Sione “Junior” Lafo’ou have brought more experience and excitement to the Lions this year.
They can turn what seems like a standard play into a try but can also foil any attempt to break the Lions’ line.
“All three have just been a tremendous addition,” Orange City coach Steve Hamson said.
“They give us the ability to strike from 100 metres out. They’ve certainly been good for us. They’re very hard to contain when they get the ball in unbroken play.”
The talented trio have also enjoyed playing with the Lions.
Lafo’ou played some second grade with Orange City last year but returned in 2012 and earned a place in the top grade.
The winger must subscribe to the “actions speak louder than words” school of thinking with the 23-year-old barely saying a word but tearing apart opposition defence all season.
“Junior was playing league with Molong last year and then was injured when he played with us so we didn’t see the best of him. We’ve certainly seen the best of him this year,” Hamson said.
“Junior is out-and-out a finisher. He likes to be out wide.”
Lemoto played in the same club in Tonga as Lafo’ou who helped him come to the Lions.
Hamson said Lemoto’s mature style of play has benefited Orange City.
“Mesui is tremendous in that you can play him in a second five-eighth-type role. He goes well under pressure and he offers that extra organisation,” the coach said.
“He’s one of the most important people we added to our roster this year. He makes the right decision 99 times out of 100 and his execution of those decision is generally spot-on.”
Na’aniumotu has been the most controversial addition to the Lions this season after he had been suspended from Group 10 in 2011 but granted clearance by the Central West Rugby Union to play in the Blowes Clothing Cup midway through this season.
Na’aniumotu is fun-loving off the field but gives the opposition hell when he has the ball with his strong running and ability to shrug off would-be tacklers.
“He’s great at getting over the advantage line with first-phase ball. He’s a great team guy as well and a lot of fun,” Hamson said.
Plus, Na’aniumotu’s experience of having played Test matches for Tonga and for Suntory Sungoliath, one of the top teams in Japan, has been valuable and he’s enjoyed playing the 15-a-side code again.
All three might be attacking weapons but Hamson said they’ve been able to show off their try-scoring prowess thanks to the work of the rest of the team.
“They can only finish the opportunities that are created somewhere else,” Hamson said.
“Our forward pack has created a lot of opportunities. The opportunities are created by the team and not just one player.”