Jackson Nikora Hemopo (born 14 November 1993) is a New Zealand All Black and rugby union player who currently plays as a lock or loose forward for Manawatu in New Zealand's domestic Mitre 10 Cup and the Highlanders in the international Super Rugby competition.
|Full name||Jackson Nikora Hemopo|
|Date of birth||14 November 1993|
|Place of birth||Whanganui, New Zealand|
|Height||195 cm (6 ft 5 in)|
|Weight||112 kg (247 lb; 17 st 9 lb)|
|School||Palmerston North Boys' High School|
|Rugby union career|
He was called into New Zealand's international rugby team, the All Blacks, in 2018 and played three tests that year. Hemopo signed a one-year deal with Japan-based club Mitsubishi Sagamihara DynaBoars at the start of 2019, with the deal becoming effective from the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Born in Whanganui in New Zealand's Manawatu-Wanganui region, Hemopo was educated at Palmerston North Boys' High School, in Palmerston North, the biggest town in his home region. He played first XV rugby while at school and after graduating headed south to Dunedin where he began playing for the Green Island rugby club in Otago's Premier club rugby competition. He had one season with the Southern club before transferring back to Green Island and winning the Dunedin club player of the year award in 2016.
Hemopo first made the Otago squad ahead of the 2014 ITM Cup and went on to play all 10 of their games during what proved to be a difficult year, with an inexperienced side finishing 6th on the Championship log, comfortably outside the playoff places. The Razorbacks were in better form in 2015, ending up 3rd in the championship table before being comprehensively defeated by Wellington in the semi-finals. Hemopo managed just 6 appearances and 1 try in his second campaign of domestic rugby in Dunedin.
At the end of 2015, it was announced that Hemopo would be heading home to join Manawatu for the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup. The Turbos, in their first season back in the Championship following a disappointing 1-year stay in the Premership, could only finish in 5th place which saw them miss out on the promotion playoffs, however, Hemopo himself was in good form, playing in all 10 of their regular season matches and scoring 1 try.
Although not initially named in the Highlanders squad for the 2015 Super Rugby season, injuries among the franchise's forward pack saw the versatile Hemopo called up to provide short-term cover midway through the year. He debuted in a 44-7 victory away to the Blues on 12 June 2015 and that was to prove to be his only appearance during what was the Highlanders maiden Super Rugby winning season.
However, he had done enough to earn a spot in the wider training group for the 2016 season where strong competition for places among the Highlanders forwards meant that he had to spend the season on the sidelines kicking his heels as the men from Dunedin reached the tournament semi-finals before being downed by the Lions in Johannesburg.
Despite not making any appearances through 2016, it was announced in October of that year that Hemopo had signed a new 3-year deal with the Highlanders that would see him remain a member of the wider training group in 2017 before becoming a full squad member for 2018 and 2019.
Hemopo was a member of the New Zealand Development Under-17 squad in 2010 and later went on to represent his country at under-20 level. He was selected in the squad for the 2013 IRB Junior World Championship in France, however he did not make any appearances.
Of Māori descent, Hemopo affiliates to the Tuhourangi, Ngāti Rangi, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, and Ngāti Wahiao iwi. He was a member of the Māori All Blacks on their 2017 end-of-year tour to Canada and France.
During the 2018 three-test series against France, Hemopo was called into the New Zealand national rugby union team, the All Blacks, as injury cover alongside Highlanders teammate Tom Franklin. After proving himself as a promising player during training, Hemopo was named to make his All Black debut in the third and final test of the series, on 23 June 2018. Hemopo made a short cameo off the bench during the first half of the test while Highlanders teammate Shannon Frizell, who was also on debut, was in the blood bin. Hemopo was bought back onto the field in the 69th minute for All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock, with the All Blacks beating France 49–14.
Hemopo was re-selected for New Zealand, for 2018 Rugby Championship, being chosen over established utility forward, Vaea Fifita.  Hemopo made one appearance off the bench in the competition, replacing Shannon Frizell in a win over Argentina.
On the 2018 end-of-year tour, Hemopo was named in the wider training group for the All Blacks' 51-man squad. He made his first start for New Zealand, at lock, on 3rd November 2018, during a test against Japan. Hemopo was not replaced during the test.
After earning a spot in New Zealand's 39-man squad for the 2019 Rugby Championship, Hemopo made two appearances off the bench in the competition, one in a win against Argentina and another in a record 36-0 win against Australia. However, after outstanding performances by Ardie Savea and Patrick Tuipulotu, Hemopo missed out on the All Blacks' 31-man squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Super Rugby statisticsEdit
- As of 9 January 2017
- "Jackson Hemopo Manawatu TurbosPlayer Profile". Turbos Rugby. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "Jackson Hemopo itsrugby.co.uk Player Statistics". itsrugby.co.uk. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "Jackson Hemopo Highlanders Player Profile". Highlanders Rugby. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
- "Highlanders 2017 Squad Guide" (PDF). All Blacks.com. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "Jackson Hemopo signs for Japanese club". Otago Daily Times. 9 March 2019. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
- "Rugby: Grieve-Dunn, Hemopo honoured". Otago Daily Times. 16 August 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "Turbos Sign Jackson Hemopo". Turbos Rugby. 1 December 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "Highlanders team named to play Blues at Eden Park". Highlanders Rugby. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
- "Three year deal with the Highlanders for Manawatu forward Jackson Hemopo". Rugby Heaven. 5 October 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "NZU20 squad named for IRB World Champs in France". All Blacks.com. 25 April 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
- "2010 New Zealand Schools squad announced". All Blacks.com. 6 September 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "Jackson Hemopo All Blacks Player Profile". All Blacks.com. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
- "New look Maori All Black team named to take on Canada". New Zealand Rugby. 2 November 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
- "All Blacks to speak to dumped forward Fifita after outburst directed at Steve Hansen - 'We love Vaea'". TVNZ. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
- "All Blacks name Rugby World Cup squad". stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 28 August 2019.