Isi On A Mission

Fijian-born Isi Naisarani started his first day with the Melbourne Re­bels yesterday. The Naqali, Naitasiri native signed a one-year deal with Rugby Australia with the hopes of putting his 2019
24 Aug 2018 10:34
Isi On A Mission
Isi Nasarani on his first day at the Rebels headquarters in Melbourne, Australia on August 23, 2018. Photo: Melbourne Rebel

Fijian-born Isi Naisarani started his first day with the Melbourne Re­bels yesterday.

The Naqali, Naitasiri native signed a one-year deal with Rugby Australia with the hopes of putting his 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign on track.

He is expected to make his first run in Melbourne Rising colours when they take on the Fiji Airways Fijian Drua side in the 2018 Australian National Rugby Championship opener set for next Satur­day at Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori.

Naisarani is likely to be joined by Wal­labies’ Sefanaia Naivalu, Marika Koroi­bete, Matt Toomua, Dane Haylett-Petty and Reece Hodge if they are not consid­ered for The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup.

“Naisarani adds a real touch of X-factor and versatility in the backrow and we think he’ll compliment the strength of our forwards pack,” Melbourne Rebels coach David Wessels said.

Born in Suva, Naisarani first rose to prominence with Souths in Queensland Premier Rugby in 2016, impressing with his incredible ball carrying and big en­gine.

Naisarani was rewarded with selection in the Brisbane City squad for the 2016 NRC and made the most of his opportu­nity, as the 195cm backrower scored five tries and lead the competition in offloads despite a disappointing season for his team.

He then moved to Perth for his Super Rugby chance before teaming with the Dan McKellar at the Brumbies for the 2017 season.

The backrower lit up Super Rugby in his time at the Brumbies but re-joins former coach Wessels in Melbourne.

Naisarani won the Nathan Sharpe Med­al as the Western Force best-and-fairest under Wessels in 2017, as well as the RUPA Medal of Excellence before moving to Canberra.

The 23-year old will become eligible for the Wallabies in April 2019, as he pushes his case for selection at the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year.


“It’s been a big two years for me,” said Naisarani.

“I’m really excited to get down to Mel­bourne and team up with Dave at the Rebels. He’s had a big impact on me, and helping me to improve as a player. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was playing for Brisbane City in the NRC but I know that I have to keep on work­ing hard to improve myself as a player. The World Cup in Japan is a big dream of mine and obviously to pull on that gold jersey would be something very special,” he said.

Wessels added: “We’re very pleased to welcome Isi to Melbourne and it’s a testament to the high performance program we’re creating here at the Re­bels to attract a player of Isi’s quality.”

“It’s wonderful to have the opportu­nity to work with Isi again. “He made a real impression straight away at the Western Force in his first year of Super Rugby, which is no easy feat to step straight into one of the toughest provincial rugby competitions in the world. Isi brings professionalism and work ethic on and off-the-track to eve­rything he does.”


Rising Fijian star Rob Valetini gets a chance to play for the Canberra Vi­kings after back-to-back knee injuries snuffed out his 2018 Super Rugby sea­son.

He along with Waratahs centre Irae Simone are two of 19 contracted Brumbies players named in the 33-man squad for the NRC.

He is the son of Fijian parents Manue­li Valetini and mother Finau Valetini – the Melbourne-born Robert played for Melbourne Rising in 2016

Recently re-signed flanker Ben Hyne will skipper the side in the competi­tion, taking over from Tom Cusack.

Wallabies’ squad members Rory Ar­nold, Folau Faingaa and Tom Banks are all in the squad for the fifth itera­tion of the NRC.

The Vikings take on the Fiji Airways Fijian Drua on October 6 at Churchill Park, Lautoka at 3pm.

Vikings- Jacob Abel, Rory Arnold, Tom Banks, Max Bode, Bj Edwards, En­ever, Folau Fainga’a, Vunipola Fifita, Seth Going, Mack Hansen, Wharenui Hawera, Ben Hyne (Captain), Len Iki­tau, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Luke Kim­ber, Brodie Leber, Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, Noah Lolesio, Ryan Lonergan, Josh Mann-Rea, Connal McInerney, Andy Muirhead, Michael Oakman-Hunt. Chance Peni, Pedro Rolando, Tom Ross, Irae Simone, Darcy Swain. Lausii Taliauli, Sione Taula, Mitch Tye, Rob Valetini.

– Edited by Osea Bola


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