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Legends Unearth More

Legends Unearth More
Rugby legends Brad Fittler (left), and Andrew Johns (middle), with fans in Sigatoka last week.
October 13
10:25 2014

Eroni Tuwai says he walked two hours to meet Andrew Johns.

Although, that’s not quite right.

No, the youngster actually walked two hours to catch a bus, which then took another two hours to travel down through the Fijian highlands to find the greatest rugby league player ever.

And then … well, young Eroni wowed him.

“Just so pure,’’ Johns told The Sunday Telegraph from the Pacific Island.

“Beautiful hands, wonderful athleticism and a real aggression to go with it.

“Honestly, he could walk into any Holden Cup side tomorrow and absolutely kill them.”

Still a student at Navosa High School, young Tuwai is one of three Fijians who now has a shot at becoming the next NRL fairytale.

And it’s all thanks to the determination and deep pockets of Johns and Brad Fittler.

Currently on their third scouting mission in Fiji – a trip funded from their own bank accounts because the NRL refuses to back it – the pair have handpicked three youngsters to send Down Under for NRL trials.

Only recently, ISC came on as a sponsor. So too Fiji’s InterContinental Hotel.

The accommodation giant won over by the pair who, on trip one, took one of their anonymous hotel porters – a kid named Eto Nabuli – and signed him to a NRL contract with Penrith.

Which is why it was so special last week when Johns and Fittler sat inside an old church in the village of Malomalo – guests of Nabuli’s wedding.

Next door, construction is underway on a new church. The one Nabuli is funding.

Down the way, a brand new house also built for the family of this flyer who recently signed a new contract with St George Illawarra.

“And that’s what rugby league can do,’’ Fittler said.

“On one of our nights here, they played a video showing Eto’s story – from the moment we found him to scoring tries in the NSW Cup on Grand Final day. I’ll be honest, I almost cried three times.”

Indeed, it is because of Nabuli these two league greats keep coming back.

Aware these trips are changing lives. Building churches.

Kitting entire schools in uniforms thanks to the $20,000 they raise each visit. It is real change.

Not only giving Nabuli a career, but the chance to meet people like fellow Panther Kevin Naiqama.

A footballer who last week stood inside that little church in Malomalo as the best man.

Feedback: sportsdesk@fijisun.com.fj

 

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