Ross Filipo. Photo by Getty
One of the biggest changes in rugby as it continues to
get to grips with professionalism is the way players move from
one club or franchise to another.
There is nothing disloyal about it. Teams at the top level
are ruthless about cutting players and it's only right that
the men who go into battle each week retain the right the
move if their contract allows it. It's the same in modern-day
work life, where the days of sticking to one employer are
One of the most well-travelled at the Chiefs is former All
Blacks lock Ross Filipo, formerly of the Hurricanes and
Crusaders, who has arrived in Hamilton via stints at Bayonne
in France and Wasps in London.
His experiences of his new team last year were limited to
what he saw on television at his flat at
Now he has arrived at the defending champions he is keen to
share what he has learned from his time playing in vastly
And while he hasn't been named in the Chiefs team to play the
Highlanders tonight, Filipo will get his opportunities over
the next few weeks, and regardless, what the 33-year-old
offers off the field could be just as important for coaches
Dave Rennie, Wayne Smith and Tom Coventry.
"Dave and Smithy and Tom have all stressed to me they want me
to play a mentoring role as well in helping the young guys
make that leap from ITM Cup level to Super Rugby as quickly
"I bring something probably a little different to the table.
With having played overseas a bit I have seen a lot of
different things. Some of the things they do in France and
England can work quite well back here, which other teams
probably wouldn't expect."
If Filipo is following a modern convention in seeing the
world as he plays his rugby, he is also breaking one. A tight
forward before his move to Europe, he now sees himself as a
No8 which means he will be competing with Fritz Lee for game
"Most guys wear smaller numbers as they get older but I seem
to be defying age and going the other way."
Leaving the high-pressure world of New Zealand rugby, which
is largely player-driven, to Europe, which was more
"teacher-student" in its dealings between coaches and
players, was refreshing, but he began to miss the analysis
and mental challenge.
As for the travelling lifestyle, that presents challenges of
its own for him, wife Louise, four-year-old son Cash and
two-year-old daughter Kiana. A third child is due in May.
"It is hard because me and my wife have talked about where we
are going to put our roots down because we're getting to that
stage - once my son starts school we don't want to keep
moving him. We want to keep some normality there because he's
moved around quite a lot in recent years.
"A lot of guys get to this stage in their career [on
short-term contracts] and now I'm in the middle of it. You
find in the latter stages you tend to choose an option that's
best for you as opposed to what's best for your rugby. It's
not just about me and my rugby any more it's about me and my
Filipo, on a one-year contract, said he hadn't ruled out
going back overseas but could also see himself staying in
Hamilton for a few more years.