Vito destined for the biggest stage

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 March, 2009, 12:00am

Watch Victor Vito today and savour every minute of it - the 20-year-old New Zealander is well on his way to stardom and might not be back again next year.

New Zealand sevens coach Gordon Tietjens has a long tradition of unearthing future All Blacks in Hong Kong. His biggest discoveries have been Jonah Lomu and Christian Cullen, the Best and Fairest Player in 1996 who is back this week in a corporate role.

Both Lomu and Cullen went on to star for the All Blacks. Tietjens believes Wellington winger Vito is set to follow in their footsteps.

'Definitely an All Black jersey is in the frame of things, but small steps first,' said Vito. 'I want to try to get into the Hurricanes first. Hopefully, the All Blacks will follow.'

Vito has been given time off from his duties with Super 14 team the Hurricanes. Tietjens wanted him to resuscitate New Zealand's flagging fortunes this season and drafted him into the World Cup squad earlier this month in Dubai. But an injury left him on the sidelines.

Luckily for Tietjens, he was able to convince the Hurricanes to release Vito for Hong Kong too, as New Zealand desperately need to win the Cup today to keep alive their hopes of retaining the IRB Sevens title. Vito, who helped New Zealand win their ninth Hong Kong Sevens last year, said: 'I'm glad to be back. I'm just trying to get my lungs used to it.

'I wish I got together with the boys a bit earlier as they had a week long camp before coming here, but I couldn't as I was with the Hurricanes and I had to do my duty there too.

'Sevens is important to get my fitness back after an injury like I had in Dubai.'

Lomu and Cullen both left memorable imprints in Hong Kong before going on to bigger things with the All Blacks. Vito is big and fast, but he downplays Lomu comparisons.

'I met him a few times and he's still got that aura about him. He is the biggest name in the game and keeps the guys inspired to be like him. But at the end of the day there is never going to be another Jonah Lomu,' Vito said.