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Nemani Nadolo Reveals Why He Called Time On His Flying Fijians Career

”Don’t get me wrong, I’ve en­joyed every minute playing for Fiji and it’s always been an honour, but I think doing this will add a few more years to my career. It’s one of those decisions where you sometimes find you have to be self­ish about it, as bad as that sounds. At the end of the day, it’s you that’s going to be going through all of it."
22 Feb 2019 15:22
Nemani Nadolo Reveals Why He Called Time On His Flying Fijians Career
Fiji Airways Flying Fijians Nemani Nadolo and Ben Volavola during the 2015 World Cup. Photo: Zimbio

Nemani Nadolo admits he wants to play professional rugby in France for a few more years.

And it’s only the reason why he quit international rugby for the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians. Na­dolo said the decision was entirely his not his club Montpellier or money.

At only 31, the immense toll of playing professional rugby for his club and country has taken its toll on Nadolo.

Nadolo’s season has been dogged by a persistent knee injury and it speaks volumes about how brutal rugby can be that even the lure of the World Cup and the joy of play­ing for his islands and his people on the grandest stage of all was not sufficient to delay retirement.

He told Rugby Pass “I could’ve waited until after the World Cup but it just felt right to do it now. It felt like a big burden off me. Prob­ably the last 10-11 months I’ve been thinking about it.

“”Don’t get me wrong, I’ve en­joyed every minute playing for Fiji and it’s always been an honour, but I think doing this will add a few more years to my career. It’s one of those decisions where you sometimes find you have to be self­ish about it, as bad as that sounds. At the end of the day, it’s you that’s going to be going through all of it.

“The amount of rugby I’ve played in the last four years has taken its toll on my body. I went from Super Rugby (with the Cru­saders in 2016) straight to French rugby and not really having a rest, then from that into internationals. In two seasons, I’ve played 50-odd club games alone. Along the way, I picked up a lot of niggles and inju­ries. This season, everything prob­ably caught up with me.”

TRADITIONAL HEALER

Seeking a lasting cure for his trou­blesome knee, Nadolo returned to Fiji earlier this month where he spent four days at Waisake Naholo and Al Blacks wing’s village Na­droumai, Nadroga to harness the restorative powers of a traditional Fijian healer.

“I hate saying it’s the witch-doctor – we definitely don’t call it that – but it’s someone with special heal­ing powers. Funnily enough, I went there, got my knee done, and it’s heaps better. I’ve started running already,” Nadolo said.

“They oil and rub your knee. They massaged and prayed over it for a whole day. Then they put thirty slits in my leg, put a cup over it, all this blood comes out. It was a three-day procedure.

“We grew up on this. Whenever something happened to us, there was a certain thing you’d drink or a certain thing they’d do to your body. I didn’t really tell the club, I just went, came back and told them – nothing was going to stop me whether they said yes or no, be­cause I know this has worked.

GUTLESS PEOPLE

In 2014, while playing for the Crusaders, Nadolo says he was called an “unfit chubby n*****” in a Christchurch bar. While out with his family in France last year, a drunken fan allegedly described his match-winning performance against Clermont as “not bad for a monkey”.

“There have always been idiots talking. Usually they’re far away from you on the field. What I find really amusing is they don’t own up to it [afterwards] – it’s just gut­less people.

“We’re not only dealing with rac­ism now, we’re dealing with homo­phobia. We need to come out with a commercial – and I’ve yet to see one –around racism and equality, making rugby a safe place.

“There’s always more we can do, always. Why can’t we all do it, get together, get some of the leading rugby players, black, white, gay, lesbian, whatever, and do some­thing about it. Let people know that rugby is for everyone – we talk a lot about it but not much is done.”

VOICE

Nadolo dedicates what time he can to supporting and giving a “voice” to his countrymen in need, as one of six representatives of the tremendous Pacific Rugby Players Welfare group based in France.

“A lot of clubs in France don’t obey the rules or don’t pay their players. That’s where we come in and we work with Provale [the French players union] and the Rug­by Players Association in England. We represent our country and our people here,” Nadolo says.

“They’re shy, they’re young, they don’t know what to do. They come over here on a hope and a prayer. A lot of the time in France, the clubs tell you one thing and do the other – that’s where the Fijian boys go wrong.”

– Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

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