The first time I heard the name, Daniel Adongo, it was the associated image that got my attention. Kenya and a Rugby Union context do not axiomatically just roll-to-flow off the tongue. Sure; there is some heaven in those Sevens, but a specimen with the exterior to challenge a S.B.W. in that ring; unexpected.
When this news filtered through my social media circles out of Africa, there was a perturbed sense that someone had dropped the ball with the Bulls. He had loved us and Loftus, they opined.
His introduction to New Zealand rugby has been everything you expect from someone old skooled in the dark arts in the land of the All Blacks traditional rivals. He has had the eye for contact; hunger to lay down the hurt, and the willingness to talk it up, in your face. The early conflagration with Jimmy “the Knife” Cowan, one that permeated the contest. Ya, the use of “permeated” a little of this paradoxical sense, but so is this man’s story.
If looks could kill, call the paramedics.
Nearing the business end of his first stint in the ITM Cup, we decided it was time to use our words on another’s behalf, and we did. We thought it would be interesting to get some insight into the man and his future that intersects both with iamjonnyking and a RugbyJourney.
Things weren’t so clear-cut as we expected. Who would have thought?!
We go on this record with “The Cleaner” of Counties Manukau, Daniel Adongo. This time together has only been minutely manicured. Enjoy.
Adongo: You’re keeping me from my lunch, huh?
JK: Hey Daniel, how are you doing?
Adongo: All good. All good.
JK: I’ll be as brief as I can. We’ll start with the difficult one first. I have a reasonable South African contingent and when it was announced you were heading to New Zealand, there was some dismay. You were coming through the ranks there; you were signed by the Bulls and then six months later you’re heading to New Zealand. What changed?
Adongo: What changed was I wanted to get more game time, and I think, mostly to get a different feel for rugby, because down here it’s more running rugby, and it can only benefit my game moving forward. I can play what I see; use my feet more, and also have that more physical South African sort of style.
Adongo: It’s not really opportunities. This really came up just before the Currie Cup. It’s a tough question as you said, so I think I’ll just leave it there.
JK: You went to Strathmore School, is that where you first started playing rugby? There is talk about your ability to do the 100 metres in under 11 seconds. The running style of rugby, is this the style you grew up with in Kenya?
Adongo: Yeah, definitely. It is more about speed and agility. I mean, everyone’s fast, and just adding a bit more size to the forwards.
JK: The story is you went back home, were playing in the Sevens tournament. Tana Umaga’s there; he see you…
Adongo: No, No, No.
JK: That’s not the story?
Adongo: I don’t know how that is, but that’s not how I got contacted by Tana.
JK: Are you able to share how that came about? Do you want to share?
Adongo: I don’t want to discredit the other media article. It’s awkward.
JK: Now you’re in New Zealand. You’re with Counties, and you’ve signed two years, I believe.
Adongo: I can’t really disclose the duration I’ve signed for at the moment.
JK: SupeRugby in New Zealand…
Adongo: Sorry that I’m not really being that open.
JK: It’s okay. It’s your prerogative. Just as it one’s prerogative to ask the questions, it’s your prerogative to answer them. What about SupeRugby in New Zealand? Can you give us any insights into the likelihood or possibility that you will be playing SupeRugby?
Adongo: There is a very big chance here or back in South Africa. I’m just focusing on what I have to do now in the ITM Cup campaign. After that, of course everything sorts itself out if you’re playing well.
JK: So it could go either way. It could be South Africa; it could be New Zealand?
Adongo: “laughing” Ya.
JK: We’ll go for some more personal questions. What can you Bench Press?
Adongo: About 180kgs.
JK: What about arm curl? We’ve seen those photos of those guns for Africa. I think you must have been training at the time. What can you arm curl?
JK: You’ve come from another continent; another culture; how are you finding New Zealand?
Adongo: I’m a people-person, so I’m just enjoying the different type of people, absorbing a different type of culture and way of living. I’m just enjoying it at the moment.
JK: If you weren’t involved in rugby, what would you be doing?
Adongo: Probably studying; medicine to be more specific.
JK: What’s your music on your ipod before a Match?
Adongo: I listen to alot of different things. I’ve got artists like, Florence and the Machine. I’ve got some hip-hop. Whatever gets me in the mood at the time.
JK: Skinny Jeans or Trackpants?
Adongo: Ah, skinneyz.
JK: McDs or KFC?
Adongo: None. I’m a healthy eater.
JK: New Zealand; cold or freezing?
JK: Here’s a question in light of my South African contacts. Your opinion of New Zealand women?
Adongo: My opinion of New Zealand women…
JK: The South African’s hassle the beauty of our talent. Any comment?
Adongo: ”laughing” They’re very open. They’re good people.
JK: They’re good people. That’s a safe answer. Big match coming up versus “the Jaffas” as we say in New Zealand. Your thoughts going into that?
Adongo: Do my job, as usual. Not focus on the gravity or the extremity of the game. Just be accurate in what I do. Nothing changes. Just play what I see.
JK: And your core role. If we look at the Manawatu match. The 1st Half for Counties was a little bit here or there, but when you came on; I’ve nicknamed you “The Cleaner” [He laughs] because you hit those rucks; make the ball available. Is that one of the core roles that Tana and the South African context; the physicality; getting in the opposition’s face?
Adongo: I love to run with the ball, but at the moment it’s what the team needs. We need to get the ball back, secure the ball, and get quick ball for our Backs, so they can show what they’ve got and put us on the front-foot. That’s what the team needs, I’m more than happy to do it.
JK: So in terms of position, I’ve read online that you prefer Flanker, but you were also tried in the U19s with the Sharks on the wing.
Adongo: Ya, ya, I started off on the wing, and Rudolph Straeuli, a good mentor of mine, changed my position to Flanker.
JK: So if you had the choice, where would you want to play?
Adongo: I’d like to play my career in Loose Forward. But of course, I’m learning a lot at Lock. I’m learning that they’re the tough guys; the unsung heroes of the game, but I’d like to carry on in my career on the side of the scrum.
JK: New Zealand rugby has been suitably impressed, which is why you are getting a few media calls. I thank you for talking to me today, Daniel, and I wish you all the best. I’d like to see you in a New Zealand SupeRugby side and who knows, even one day playing in the fabled strip of All Black.
Adongo: Thank you. I really appreciate the call.
I was going to ask him if he had a dream to now turn out for the All Blacks, but I think he answered this with the conjecture surrounding his SupeHome.
I certainly didn’t quite expect this answer surrounding SupeRugby. People in Africa may be encouraged. If I was to speculate, I would think someone like the Kings would be interested in Daniel Adongo; given their needs heading into this new season, and the requirement to source some talent; he meets many of these.
On the other hand, now that he has done some time in New Zealand, if there is enough of an expression of interest, and this seems likely, a franchise like the Blues would do well to secure his services. Adongo would provide the Blues with something they haven’t always had; have always needed, which is someone to hurt in tight, in close, and someone willing to live there.
It has been about time that I talked with some again, at the coal-face of rugby. We will be seeking to do much more of this into the future.
We have one of the rising stars of New Zealand rugby next. We talk this week. We will seek to put his words up early next week.
Feel free to offer your response or discuss the large context that arises from Daniel’s words; his SupeFuture; even his potential international future that will follow on from this effect.
What Say You?
Until Next Time