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Sacrifice Counts: Naevo

Former Blues, Chiefs backrow shares his Super Rugby experience
12 Sep 2021 13:12
Sacrifice Counts: Naevo
Api Naevo (right) at his farm in Nadi. Photo; Waisea Nasokia

Players’ sacrifice will enable the Fijian Drua to become sustainable in the Super Rugby environment, says a former player.

Speaking to SUNsports yesterday, former Auckland Blues and Waikato Chiefs backrow Apenisa (Api) Naevo said, this is a key component.

The Drua and Sir Michael Jones’ Moana Pasifika will make their debut when the Super Rugby Pacific gets underway in February.

“This is special and it will push a lot of local players to go for the opportunity of playing at a higher level of rugby,” Naevo said.

“Playing Super Rugby is different and there is more opportunity for the local players to extend their knowledge by playing against top teams from Australia and New Zealand.”

The 48-year-old former Flying Fijians backrower played for Counties in the New Zealand Provincial Championship (NPC) before making the Blues (Super Rugby) squad in 1998 and in 1999 he joined the Chiefs.

“I was lucky to play (in the Super Rugby). I was given the chance and I took it since there was a big squad.

Flying Fijians lock Api Naevo celebrates after scoring the winning try against USA during the pool game of the 2003 Rugby World Cup at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia, Fiji won 19-18. Photo; World Rugby

Flying Fijians lock Api Naevo celebrates after scoring the winning try against USA during the pool game of the 2003 Rugby World Cup at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia, Fiji won 19-18.
Photo; World Rugby

“For that you have to keep on improving your game because you are with the best players in the world.

“If not then your position might be taken up by someone else.”

Naevo said that is why our players must be prepared to make sacrifices.

“When I was selected for the Blues, we were approaching the off season. I made a commitment that I’ll stay away from alcohol during the festive season.

“And I stood by it even when I had to come back to Fiji for the festive season. My cousins tried to make me drink but I stayed away from alcohol.

“That sacrifice enabled me to make the final Blues squad.”

Naevo said, it did not end there as he had to keep working hard in training and at the same time make more sacrifices.

“During my days with the Blues there were only two Fijian players- winger Joeli Vidiri and myself. We faced a lot of competition from the All Blacks players in the side.”

Naevo said to get into the starting Blues line-up he had to compete against backrowers like the legendary Sir Michael, Andrew Blowers and Mark Carter.

“I had to fight for a spot in either lock or flanker against these players. I had a height advantage since I was taller than them,” he recalled.

“I remembered Sir Michael telling me, not to worry about these star players. His words were ’be yourself and do your job’.”

Naevo played 30 Test matches for the Flying Fijians. He also played at the 1999 and 2003 Rugby World Cups.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: waisean@fijisun.com.fj



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