Why Sau Switched To Union

Former coach tells his story on rising 7s star   The man who influenced rising Fiji Airways Fijian 7s winger, Eroni Sau to switch from rugby league to union has
16 Feb 2018 11:00
Why Sau Switched To Union
Eroni Sau on the run against New Zealand in Hamilton. Photo: Zimbio

Former coach tells his story on rising 7s star


The man who influenced rising Fiji Airways Fijian 7s winger, Eroni Sau to switch from rugby league to union has not regretted his decision.

Speaking to SUNsports yesterday rugby league development officer Lagilagi Golea said the decision made was to further Sau’s sporting career.

“It was during the 2013 Battle of the Bati clash where the Fiji Bati rugby league team to the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in England was to be selected,” he recalled.

“Sau played for the Fiji Residents side as they took on the Australian Fijians who had most NRL players playing for them. That night, in a packed ANZ Stadium, Sau scored four tries and many thought that he would be selected which actually did not happen as the then Bati coach had opted to take NRL players.”

Golea said he went to the dressing room after the announcement of the team to encourage the local-based players.

“What struck me was the look on Sau’s face and I really felt sorry for him. I went over, held him up and asked him, ‘o via vodo waqavuka? (You want to go by plane?)’. Sau nodded his head and then I told him that he was going to switch to union and I will help him out.”



The former Fijian Bati winger said the next day he called Red Rock coach, the late Lote Rasiga who accepted his request to take in Sau.

Golea said as a development officer he always wanted to see his players make it to the highest level possible.

Sau began his career with the Saru Dragons Rugby League club in Lautoka where he played for the Under-16 side and later went on to play for the senior team. He also represented the Ba Provincial College U19 rugby league team.

“I usually help in coaching the Dragons and I knew Sau from there. I know of the struggles and the sacrifices these players go through as they try to make it in life by using their sporting talent. That is why I felt that way in the dressing room and tried to help Sau out.”

Golea said Sau was focused on what he wanted so he stuck with Red Rock as they won local 7s tournaments as well as a few tournaments in Australia.

“Later on he joined Police where he was under the wings of former Fiji Residents coach Sale Tubuna who helped mould him to become a better player. There was no turning back after I learned that he had made it to the Suva rugby team and later the Fiji Airways Drua side that played in the Australian National Rugby Championship.”

He said Sau’s success in the World Sevens Series has not taken him by surprise.

“Before I was saying that he (Sau) was going to be the next big thing in rugby league if he gets a break with one of the NRL teams. It did not happen but now he’s going to make it in union.”



He said one of Sau’s strengths is his timely tackles which often rattle the opposition.

“You saw it against Samoa, New Zealand and South Africa during the Hamilton tournament. Those tackles came at crucial times and it turned the game to our advantage.”

Golea indicated that Sau will be our next Vili Satala.

Satala a former national sevens and fifteens rugby star renowned for his bone-crushing tackles that earned him the nickname “Stretcher” while playing in the French Top 14 competition.

Looking at the upcoming Las Vegas and Vancouver tournaments, Golea says, if Police and former Penrith Panthers U20 winger Sakeo Railoa gets selected then he is expected to form a deadly combination with Sau.

“I would prefer to keep Sakeo on the wing while Sau plays at rover,” he added.

  Edited  by  Grace Narayan



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