SPORTS

Nakarawa Is Living His Father’s Dream

With Junior now playing in his third RWC, Nakarawa Snr told SUNsports how he missed out in the national selection because of work commitment. He said it was during a Fiji tour when the then skipper, Epi Bolawaqatabu, asked his brother and skipper of the Kadavu team Sakeasi Ose, on his whereabouts.
20 Sep 2019 15:10
Nakarawa Is Living His Father’s Dream
Fiji Airways Flying Fijians Leone Nakarawa, nephew Leone Nakarawa Jnr, Leone Nakarawa Snr and partner Vika at the Nadi International Airport yesterday. Photo: WAISEA NASOKIA

Leone Nakarawa Snr, 75, is happy his son Leone (Jnr) gets the nod to start for the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians in tomorrow’s Rugby World Cup opener against Australia.

Yesterday, he shared how Junior continued to make his day brighter, his family happy, his country proud and most importantly carrying on his dream.

With Junior now playing in his third RWC, Nakarawa Snr told SUNsports how he missed out in the national selection because of work commitment. He said it was during a Fiji tour when the then skipper, Epi Bolawaqatabu, asked his brother and skipper of the Kadavu team Sakeasi Ose, on his whereabouts.

“He told him that I was in Hawaii and when I learnt of the invite, it still pains me today,” Nakarawa Snr said.

“I played for Kadavu in the Island Zone and the Suva team, but I missed out on my chance to play for Fiji because I was away in Hawaii.

“I had a dream to play for Fiji as well, but it did not happen. However, Leone (Jnr) is carrying out that dream of mine until today. Go, Junior. And all the best to the Flying Fijians.”

Tough upbringing

Nakarawa Snr was among workers at the Vatukoula Gold Mine who went on strike after a trade union dispute.

On his son Leone (Jnr), who was once voted as Europe’s best player, he said he trained him in Vatukoula when he left school.

“I was on strike and all my six children were attending Tavua College.

“I was not able to pay their fees and I told him whether you pass or fail I still won’t be able to let you continue your studies.”

Leone (Jnr) would train with a 15s team in Vatukoula, but in the morning he joined a local 7s club. He later got picked for the Fijian Under-19 side.

“In January 2006, I wrote to the then Army commander (Voreqe) Bainimarama to help get him into the RFMF (Republic of the Fiji Military Forces). He was called for an interview and got selected.”

Nakarawa (Snr) said there was no looking back from then on.

“He was on top flight and went on to join the Fijian 7s that won gold at the 2016 Olympic Games. Then he took up overseas contracts in Scotland and France.”

Leone Jnr is the fourth-youngest in the family of six.

He previously played as a lock forward for the Glasgow Warriors. In 2016, he signed for Racing 92.

In 2018, he was awarded the European Professional Rugby Player of the Year.

Nakarawa, 31, is generally considered to be one of the best lock forwards in the world-famous for his offloading skills, athleticism and general play in open field. He made his debut against Tonga in Nuku’alofa on 2009.

Nakarawa Snr will be watching in earnest with his mining mates in Vatukoula.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: waisean@fijisun.com.fj

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