Island News

A word from the Wise

Written By : Source: RUGBY REBEL . At first glance a warm summer’s evening in Canberra and a bitterly cold afternoon at Old Deer Park may not appear to have
07 Jan 2011 12:00

image Written By : Source: RUGBY REBEL . At first glance a warm summer’s evening in Canberra and a bitterly cold afternoon at Old Deer Park may not appear to have too much in common, but for London Welsh fly half Waisea Luveniyali they will be forever linked.

Little did the Fiji international, nicknamed ‘Wise’, know when he lined up against Australia in Canberra in June last year that his next game of rugby would come nearly seven months later and 10,000 miles away against Esher at Old Deer Park, Richmond.
A broken arm suffered in trying to “smash” Aussie pin-up boy Mat Giteau left the former Quin kicking his heels and carrying the tackle bags before he stepped off the bench for new club London Welsh and in to a derby clash with Esher.
“Just to come back and play rugby again was awesome,” said 25-year-old Luveniyali, who has been capped nine times by Fiji. “I was really excited and happy, but also relieved because I’d been waiting six months.
“I was planning for a big smash at Mat Giteau, because everyone wants a piece of him!
“I dropped my shoulder swung my arm just to give him a hit, but my arm hit his hip and then I landed on it again and felt a snap.
“The physio told me it was just muscle but Australia scored a try after that and I had to take the kick off but I couldn’t even hold the ball.
“But that physio was just a trainee and when the main physio came over he took my arm and with one touch said ‘it’s broken’.”
That would spell a long period on the sidelines for Luveniyali – not a welcome scenario for any player but especially for one keen to make an impact at a new club.
“I thought it would heal quicker. After five months I thought it was okay, but I had a review and it revealed it hadn’t healed,” said Luveniyali.
“I was felt a bit down; I was excited at the start, but as time went on I was feeling a bit bored. But it’s ok now, I’m really happy to be back in rugby.”
Luveniyali may have been left frustrated by his prolonged absence, but his return to action mid-way through the season could be a timely boost for Welsh with the play-offs looming on the horizon.
“If I’d been playing from the start I’d be feeling a little bit tired right now, but I feel fresh so things should be really good, especially as we come towards the end of the season,” he said.
Luveniyali joined Welsh in the summer from near neighbours Harlequins after two seasons at the Twickenham Stoop where he made 39 appearances.
His highlight, though, came on debut at Twickenham when his late penalty gave Quins a 24-21 victory over Saracens. It was Dean Richards who brought Luveniyali to Quins but his departure due to ‘Bloodgate’ would cue a change in his fortunes at the club.
“My first season was really good but the second season I didn’t play much. I was getting frustrated not playing rugby,” said Luveniyali.
“I was playing really well at the end of last season and they were able to see the best of me, especially the new director of rugby [Conor O’Shea]. But they just didn’t want me.”
Luveniyali, though, could have a big year ahead of him as the Dragons strive for promotion and with the World Cup in September. Not that the World Cup will be anything new to Luveniyali, who was something of a surprise selection for Fiji’s squad in 2007.
The second youngest member of the squad, his second international cap would come against Australia in Montpellier after Nicky Little was injured in Fiji’s fantastic win over Wales.
Luveniyali, who marked his debut just three months earlier against Tonga by scoring a try, a conversion and a penalty, would end up on the losing side against Australia, 55-12, but it was an experience which has only inspired him further to make it into Fiji’s squad for September.
“I would love to be at the World Cup. Since I’ve started playing rugby again my goal is to just keep on playing rugby – the World Cup will come, all I have to do it keep playing and getting better,” he said.
“I wasn’t aiming for 2007, I was aiming for 2011, but when opportunities come you just have to grab them. I was really lucky in 2007 – it was an awesome experience.”
For now, though, Luveniyali is fully focused on getting London Welsh to the Premiership.
“I’m really happy. The playing environment at London Welsh is really good, the coaches are good and we’ve got a good bunch of players – I really like the open rugby,” he said.
For London Welsh head coach Phil Greening, Luveniyali’s availability at this stage of the season is like a new signing, and he’s full of praise for the way the Fijian has conducted himself over the past seven months.
“He’s a great professional; he’s done all the jobs that no one else wants to do and extra training sessions. He’s done everything that’s been asked of him and more,” he said.
“He’s been fantastic to have around and I think that’s why everyone has embraced him at the club. He’s a real talent and I hope we can start seeing the fruits of his hard work.”

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