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EDITORIAL: Next Focus Drua, Prep Time for 2018 NRC Is Now

EDITORIAL: Next Focus Drua, Prep Time for 2018 NRC Is Now
August 05
12:38 2018

The sevens season is over.

It starts again when the 2018-2019 World Sevens Series resumes in Dubai in November.

Meanwhile, the fourth challenge for the HFC Bank Farebrother Trophy finishes next week with Tailevu having a crack at the coveted silverware against tradi­tional neighbours Naitasiri.

The focus now turns on the Fiji Airways Fijian Drua who will be appearing for the second time in the Austral­ian National Rugby Championship (NRC) in September.

The Senirusi Seruvakula-coached side had a good de­but last year and they need to up the momentum in 2018.

There is no reason why they should not do so.

The wealth of talent in the local competition is waiting to be tapped before being unleashed.

Some thought the final of the 2018 Skipper Cup Pre­miership between Suva and Nadroga last month as the finale of the season.

But the best rugby of the season was for all to see at Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori, yesterday in the third challenge of the HFC Bank Farebrother Trophy be­tween Nadroga and Naitasiri.

Won by the Highlanders 26-17 in front of a capacity crowd, it was worth much more than the $15 one had to fork out and the display by Naitasiri should be recom­mended for the coaching manual.

Seruvakula will probably name his squad next week and preparation needs to start in earnest.

We should have started the ball rolling, but circum­stances beyond his control could be the reason behind the late start.

But we don’t have to blame lack of preparation time during the competition.

Other NRC teams such as Brisbane City and defend­ing champion Queensland Country already named their squads. And even former Wallabies struggled to make the cut.

Coaches Mick Heenan and Rod Seib said Quade Coop­er, Karmichael Hunt and James Slipper will be treated like other players in the Brisbane City and Queensland Country teams.

Cooper and Hunt were named in the 36-man Brisbane City squad and Slipper was selected in the Queensland Country squad.

Whether they play in the NRC remains to be seen be­cause selections will be up to Heenan and Seib.

This shows the competitive nature of the NRC this year.

It is development pathway to prepare players for Super Rugby and Wallabies for Australia and Swire Shipping Fijian Warriors and Fiji Airways Flying Fijians for Fiji.

More local players are benefitting from last year’s stint with Peceli Nacebe joining French Top 14 club Bordeaux Begles, Eroni Sau teaming up with Perpignan and Eroni Vasiteri lining up for Connacht in Ireland.

There will be more openings for local players when the Fijian Drua play the first two rounds of the NRC at home when it kicks off on September 1.

The Drua will host Melbourne Rising in round one at Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori, at 3pm.

In round two on September 8, the Senirusi Seruvakula-coached side will play Brisbane City at Churchill Park, Lautoka, at 3pm.

The team will play rounds three and four in Australia and return for round five where they will play the NSW Country Eagles on September 29 at Ratu Cakobau Park.

In round six on October 6, they will play the Canberra Vikings in Lautoka.

A four-team Finals Series will kick off on October 20, with the 2018 Grand Final to be played on Saturday, Oc­tober 27.

Last year we reached the semifinal and the final spot should the target in 2018.

We don’t have to look offshore because we local talent in abundance.



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