Rugby League | SPORTS

Vanua State Of Origin Bring Memories: Rabele

The Fiji National Rugby League Vanua State of Ori­gin at Prince Charles Park, Nadi this Saturday bring back a lot of memories.
21 Jul 2022 15:51
Vanua State Of Origin Bring Memories: Rabele
Vodafone Fiji Bati head coach Josaia Rabele.

The Fiji National Rugby League Vanua State of Ori­gin at Prince Charles Park, Nadi this Saturday bring back a lot of memories.

“This used to be the East versus West back in the 1990’s,” Bati coach Jo Rabele said.

“Back then the tournament was the pinnacle of FNRL, we have great recollections of the East ver­sus West frenzy,” he said.

“We always looked forward to the competition. It’s just a different feeling of pride and passion to play for your vanua and we enjoyed the camaraderie of players who are usually your opponent during the clubs.”

Along with Rabele big names that used to grace the paddock included Noa Nadruku and ex-Bati captain Pio Nakubuwai.

Saturday’s fixture for the first time will include the men’s youth category.

The North-East and South-West split players from the 14 Fijian Provinces (yasana) into two teams, with players from the Northern, Eastern and Central provinces se­lected to the Blues while players from the Southern and Western provinces are the Maroons.

Maroons : Ba, Kadavu, Nadroga-Navosa, Namosi, Ra, Rewa, Serua.

Blues: Bua, Cakaudrove, Lau, Lo­maiviti, Macuata, Naitasiri, Tai­levu.

FNRL acting chief executive Don Natabe says that the tournament was revived in 2020 as part of FN­RL’s broader strategy to reinvigor­ate the game and strengthen the rugby league pathway.

“The FNRL Vanua State of Origin is the pinnacle of our national rug­by league competition for any resi­dent Fijian rugby league players aiming for a spot in our national teams. As the tournament evolves, it will provide a competitive high performance environment for members of the Origin squads and that includes hard working team staff,” Natabe said.

“The rules mirror NRL, it is tougher than your normal club competition and there’s more talent for Origin coaches to select; which makes it competitive even before players join the camp.

“It is a bold step for the league at the back of a pandemic. FNRL is committed to the future of the game, and our players, and the Va­nua Origin is a part of that com­mitment. While more talents get picked up by scouts to go abroad, it is equally important that we keep innovating and keep the game evolving here at home.

“Vanua Origin is also an impor­tant platform for selecting players for the 2025 Rugby League World Cup qualifiers in the women’s and youth categories and other interna­tional resident matches from 2023 onwards.

The Vanua State of Origin will run parallel with the Vodafone Cup finals series over the next six weeks; the grand final is on Sep­tember 3 and tentatively booked for Churchill Park.

“We are excited that the Origin kicks off this weekend as a prelude to the Vodafone Cup competition that officially kicks-off next week with the Magic Round, it continues with an ever exciting final series up to September,” Natabe said.

Matches this on Saturday also in­clude the Western State Cup Grand Final. Dragons meet the Roosters in the curtain raiser fixture at 2.30pm.

FNRL is encouraging rugby fans and followers to support their va­nua teams at Nadi for the Fijian Origin Clash.

The Maroons currently have both men’s and women’s Origin titles from 2020 while the inaugural youth title will up for battle.

Tickets to the Origin Series: $10 for grandstand and $5 flat for em­bankment.

Saturday draws for the East ver­sus West at Prince Charles Park: 11.30am (Under-19 Youths), 1pm Premier Women, 2.30pm Saru Drag­ons versus Sabeto Roosters, 4.30pm (Premier Men) East versus West.

Fixtures:

Vanua Origin I –July 23 at Prince Charles Park, Nadi

Vanua Origin II –August 6, at Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori

Vavua III – 4.30pm August 31, at Churchill Park, Lautoka (TBA).

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj



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