SPORTS

‘Leader Of Men’

Special year for captain Waqaniburotu, says Brive coach Davidson   When Akapusi Qera was unavailable to captain the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians in the last November tour, head coach John
06 Jan 2019 11:17
‘Leader Of Men’
Fiji Airways Flying Fijians captain and Brive blindside flanker Dominiko Waqaniburotu firing up his team at half-time.

Special year for captain Waqaniburotu, says Brive coach Davidson

 

When Akapusi Qera was unavailable to captain the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians in the last November tour, head coach John McKee had someone in his sleeve to take over.

It was in the form of rugged blindside flanker Dominiko Waqaniburotu.

The Makadru native from Matuku in Lau is a man of a few words but is always in the thick of things when it comes to rugby.

According to Rugby Pass, Brive coach Jeremy Davidson is tipping Waqaniburotu for a special 2019 double – promotion to the Top 14 with Brive and quarter-final qualification for Fiji at this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

This was after the hugely respected Waqaniburotu, led Fiji to an historic Parisian win over France.

That was the biggest victory in the 32-year-old’s 43-cap Test career. However, that milestone hasn’t distracted from his mission of getting his club back in the French top flight following their relegation last May.

 

KEY FIGURE

It’s an attitude which Davidson, the former Ireland international who has been in charge at Brive since the pre-season, greatly admires.

“He is a player who has an aura in the group,” said Davidson to local French media ahead of the resumption of the Pro D2 following its Christmas/New Year break.

Brive are in fourth place, seven points off leaders Nevers, and Waqaniburotu is key to their promotion plans even though he has started from the bench in four of his 10 club appearances this season.

“He does not let himself down. He is a tough guy, a leader of men. He embodies an authority, not by his words but by his actions. After the exceptional victory at the Stade de France, nothing has changed in his behaviour.

“Even if there are rotations since the beginning of the season and he has not been holder (of a Brive starting jersey) all the time, we really count on him for the future.

“It’s a guaranteed value, a value that this season he wishes only two things– to get Brive back in the Top 14 and play a third World Cup with his brothers in Japan in September and reach the quarter-finals.”

 

HIGH HOPES

Fiji will travel to Japan with high hopes of success. Their deserved win over France in Paris moved them up to eighth position in the World Rugby rankings ahead of a 2019 pool campaign where they face Australia, Wales, Georgia and Uruguay.

Waqaniburotu, who has an RPI of 62, is now in his seventh season at Brive where he has the total respect of the dressing room.

“He does not speak much but when he speaks, he is listened to,” said Saïd Hireche, Waqaniburotu’s fellow back row at the club.

“He’s a very hard worker. On the ground you do not see him all the time but when you see him, he dominates.

“For me it’s an honour to play with him. He is someone who does not cheat on the field and you want to return the favour and do the same.”

edited by Sheldon Chanel

Feedback:  leonec@fijisun.com.fj



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