Michael Wiringi is one of four overseas-born players in Romania’s Rugby World Cup squad and he joins a nation with a proud history that makes the recent decline more poignant
Among the 31 men in Romania’s squad is Michael Wiringi, a 30-year-old born and raised in Hawera, on the west coast of New Zealand’s north island. “A small-town boy that’s been given a huge opportunity”, as he says himself.
In 2011, Wiringi answered an advert in his local paper placed by the semi-pro club Baia Mare, based 400 miles north of Bucharest. They were calling for overseas recruits. He got an email back inviting him over on the next flight out. Wiringi, who has qualified for the Romania team through residency, wanted to learn a little bit about the country before he travelled, so he started looking online.