Sunvoice

Radradra Switch Food For Thought On Compensation

Star Fijian NRL winger Semi Radradra has made his decision to play for the Australian Kangaroos. This is the growing reality for Fiji in rugby, rugby league and, perhaps, soon
03 Apr 2016 13:04
Radradra Switch Food For Thought On Compensation
Semi Radradra

Star Fijian NRL winger Semi Radradra has made his decision to play for the Australian Kangaroos. This is the growing reality for Fiji in rugby, rugby league and, perhaps, soon in football.

Money often talks louder than the loyalty of playing for your own nation. So do the opportunities playing for some of the world’s great teams, like the New Zealand All Blacks in rugby and Australian Kangaroos in rugby league.

Men like Nemani Nadolo committing to the Flying Fijians rather than going for teams like the All Blacks are now the exception rather than the norm. Such national loyalty is increasingly rare.

Coming from a struggling farming community in Taveuni and making a name in the rugby league world like Radradra did is no easy feat at all.

Radradra’s struggles, sacrifice and commitment to a sport that he only came to know of when he moved to Sydney in 2012, has become a source of inspiration to many people.

He has taught us a simple lesson that is nothing is impossible in this world, if only you are prepared to work hard for it.

Radradra has already done his country proud by representing:

 Fijian Under-20 to the 2011 International Rugby Board Junior World Cup

 Fijian National Sevens team that won the 2012 Gold Coast Sevens in Australia

 Vodafone Fijian Bati to the 2013 Rugby League World Cup

This year, his breakthrough came when he was named in the World All Stars rugby league side that took on the Indigenous All Stars. He scored try that mattered in their 12-8 win at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

But amidst all this something should not be forgotten. The effort put into sports development by organisations, coaches and officials back here.

The success of Radradra and many of our rugby league players today would not have materialised if it was not for the dedication and commitment of past and current officials of the Fiji National Rugby League.

It had been a long road of blood, sweat and tears that these officials had to go through in order to keep the sport alive in Fiji.

They kept on going with whatever support they received from Government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The struggles went on until they realised that they cannot rely on Government all the time.

In 2007 the FNRL officials under the chairmanship of Peni Musunamasi made a bold decision to dedicate the sport to God. They redesigned the organisation’s logo and did away with the traditional war cry of the Quruquru Vatu.

And for them there was no turning back as things began to change for the better. The following year Vodafone Fiji came in with their sponsorship deal along with the Fiji Sun through its weekly 8-page of Rugby League News. Also that year the Bati shocked the world when they made it to the RLWC semi-final. A feat they repeated in 2013.

The blessings continued to flow as today Radradra is one among the many Fijian players that are playing in the NRL, New South Wales Cup, Queensland Cup and Country Rugby League competitions in Australia.

The recent one that is hitting the Australian newspaper headlines along with Radradra’s move- is the story of another Fijian Bati and Tavua native Eloni Vunakece, who plays for Sydney Roosters in the NRL but at the same time, keeps his job as a garbage collector in Sydney.

In fact, Radradra move to the Kangaroos is nothing new. In actual fact he is the fourth Fijian player to do this. He is only following into the footsteps of

 Lote Tuqiri: He captained the Fiji Bati to the 2000 Rugby League World Cup in England. Tuqiri scored a great try against Australia in the pool games and they were after him soon after that. He went on to play for the Brisbane Broncos before representing the Queensland Maroons in the State of Origin Series. Tuqiri also represented Australia.

 Jarryd Hayne: Yes, the great Hayne Plane was dumped from the Australian Kangaroos due to certain off the field incidents. With nowhere to go Hayne headed back home and played for the Bati at the 2013 RLWC where he became one of the stars of the tournament. The Australians came after Hayne and he made his switch with the blessings of FNRL. He also represented NSW Blues in the State of Origin. In 2013, he wanted to play for Fiji at the RLWC, but Australia Kangaroos coach, Tim Sheen made a deal with him, that made him stay back. Today, Hayne is in the NFL playing for the San Francisco 49ers.

 Akuila Uate: Like Hayne, Uate made his mark for the Fiji Bati at the 2008 RLWC. He went on to represent Australia and NSW in the Origin Series.

Radradra’s move is not the end of the world for Fiji rugby league. The welfare of his family is important and we should wish him well. For us there is nothing to lose as this will give room to one of our budding stars to rise to the occasion and again show the world that there is no shortage of talented wingers in Fiji.

But same time you have to ask. Shouldn’t there be some form of compensation for Fiji Rugby Union and Fiji National Rugby League and their affiliates for their efforts? Don’t countries recruiting our talent like Radradra for their national benefit owe something to those who nurture and expose this talent back here?

In Radradra’s case the Australians might owe both Fiji Rugby Union and Fiji National Rugby League. Food for thought.

LEONE CABENATABUA

Feedback:  leonec@fijisun.com.fj

 

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