Filipo brings Welly experience
Wed, 22 Aug 2012 6:43p.m.
By Ross Karl
With six players on All Blacks duty, Wellington's picked up vital experience with veteran lock Ross Filipo back for the ITM cup.
The 33-year-old, who made four appearances for the All Blacks, will play his 50th game for the Lions in their opener against Manawatu on Friday after a stint in France and England
Wellington born and bred, Filipo was carrying the odd regret as he plied his trade in the Northern Hemisphere.
“I know it's fifty and a lot of guys do it because it kind of irked me for the last three years that I was unable to achieve that when I first left,” he says.
Filipo and his family chose the capital after also talking with Canterbury, the home of his wife and where he won three titles as a Crusader.
“We had a house down in Christchurch so we lost that and we've been on the road for three years so we thought it would be a good time for us to get the kids home and be closer to home.”
Filipo's experience helps coach Chris Boyd, who will have sporadic involvement from his All Blacks and will do without injured Lima Sapoaga, TJ Perenara and Brad Shields for much of the tournament.
Hurricanes second five Tim Bateman will be at ten for Sapoaga, where he hasn't played since making the Christchurch boys high 1st XV.
“I was a fifth former and our seventh former was Stephen Brett and he was the first five, so I ended up in the midfield and played reasonably well there the next year we had Colin Slade as our first five so I ended up playing in the midfield by accident,” says Bateman.
Filipo's also getting used to something that's now a little unfamiliar – New Zealand's physical approach to the breakdown.
“I'm expecting to get put on my backside a few times this season,” he says.
With Filipo lending a hand Wellington's expecting to do better than last year's sixth place finish.
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