MEDIA RELEASE - 17 November 2015
LIMA SOPOAGA COMMITS TO HIGHLANDERS AND NEW ZEALAND RUGBY
The Highlanders are delighted to announce that first five-eighth Lima Sopoaga has recommitted to New Zealand Rugby and the Investec Super Rugby champions through until the end of the 2018 season.
24-year-old Sopoaga has played 49 games for the Highlanders and made his All Blacks Test debut this year against the Springboks in South Africa. Currently he holds the season record for points scored by a Highlander with 191 in 2015. He is the second-ranked Highlander for most career points on 453 (behind current assistant coach Tony Brown). Considered an essential member of the Highlanders team, Sopoaga’s accurate boot and skilful running game are credited with helping the southern men to their first ever Super Rugby title in 2015.
Sopoaga said: “I’m so grateful for the opportunity to sign to the Highlanders until 2018. I owe a lot to the coaching staff and the organisation for sticking by me and allowing me to develop not only as a player but as a person. I wouldn't be where I am today without the great team culture, teammates, coaches and medical staff. I’m looking forward to my future with the club.”
Sopoaga joins teammate Aaron Smith, who also announced a lengthy contract extension earlier this year, their commitment to the team augurs well for the future prospects of Highlanders’ rugby. Both Sopoaga and Smith have been nominated for the Investec Super Rugby Player of the Year at the 2015 Steinlager New Zealand Rugby Awards being held in December.
New Zealand Rugby General Manager of Rugby Neil Sorensen said: “This is just awesome news for Highlanders fans. Lima is a class act, and has shown in both the All Blacks and Highlanders jerseys that he has some fantastic skills. It’s exciting to think that we’re just scratching the surface of what this young man can deliver.”
Highlanders’ Head Coach Jamie Joseph said: “Lima has worked really hard in the past few seasons to develop his game, he has grown into a skilful first five and become an important member of our team. What’s more exciting is that I don’t think he has achieved his full potential yet and is only going to get better.”
Highlanders’ General Manager Roger Clark added; “Lima came to us as 19-yearold and had to overcome some pretty significant injuries in those early seasons, so it’s great to see how far he has come and the maturity he has shown in his game for a player who’s still very young. We’re excited to see what the future holds for him.”
Sopoaga and Highlanders teammate, Waisake Naholo, are currently in England with the Barbarians preparing to take on Argentina on the 21st November.
Lima Sopoaga – mini biography
Lima Sopoaga, was identified as a rugby talent at a young age but had to overcome struggles with injury to realise his potential.
Wellington-born and raised, Sopoaga accepted an offer from the Highlanders in 2011 on the back of a strong debut season for the Wellington Lions in 2010. The same year, he was part of the New Zealand Under 20 team's Junior World Championship-winning campaign in Italy. Injuries limited his 2012 and 2013 Super Rugby seasons, but in 2014 and 2015, regular game-time has seen the playmaker’s game blossom, he has built a reputation for taking the ball strongly to the line and creating exciting opportunities for his powerful wings. He is also a very accurate goal kicker.