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Another Vunibaka on the rise

December 23
10:12 2013

By ANASILINI RATUVA

Being included in the Digicel Fiji 7s extended squad is an early Christmas gift for Marika Vunibaka.
“This is a breakthrough, an early Christmas gift for me,” Vunibaka said.
“I was surprised when manager Paula Biu called me up and said that I’m part of the extended 23-member squad and had to attend the first fitness test.
“I enjoyed training with experienced players I always watch on television like Osea Kolinisau, Pio Tuwai, Jasa Veremalua, Levani Botia and others.”
He wants to be like his namesake Marika Vunibaka Senior who played for the Flying Fijians, Crusaders in Super Rugby and a member of the winning team which won the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 1997 and 2005.
Both hail from Vione, Gau, Lomaiviti and are first cousins.
“I normally play 15s at school and for the national Under-20 side and I see the 7s call-up as a challenge.”
The prop has maternal links in Navutu in Naitasiri and attended Veiuto Primary School and was a Form Seven student at Suva Grammar School.
His uncle Kameli Tilalati was former national centre. Vunibaka looks up to his mum Keresi Nailavo as his mentor.
“Mum always reminds me to work hard and she wants me do my best.”
This year Vunibaka asked his namesake to join the Lomaiviti 7s team.
“I must thank my namesake for his support.”

Digicel Fiji 7s extended squad member Marika Vunibaka sweats it out at the High Performance Unit gym in Suva. Photo: PAULINI RATULAILAI

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