SPORTS

Luke Tagi Surprised To Be Part Of the Fiji Airways Flying FIjians Squad

It was a pleasant surprise for Luke Tagi when informed that he was part of the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians 42- member squad at Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori. “Sa release
16 Jun 2019 14:32
Luke Tagi Surprised To Be Part Of the Fiji Airways Flying FIjians Squad
Fiji Airways Flying Fijians head coach John McKee(left) having discussion with Fiji Airways Fijian 7s head coach Gareth Baber at Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori on June 15,2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

It was a pleasant surprise for Luke Tagi when informed that he was part of the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians 42- member squad at Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori.

“Sa release tale ni kua? Oi isa vinaka vakalevu o au madaga sega ni kila (It was released today, thank you very much, I didn’t even know),” Tagi told SUNsports.

The Vione, Gau, Lomaiviti native believes hard work and dedication has finally paid off.

“It’s just hard work that awarded me this opportunity, I want to thank God for this opportunity.

“Even I wasn’t expecting to be part of the Flying Fijians squad building up to the World Cup year but I guess it was God’s plan all along for me,” he excitedly said.

The prop, who weighs 130 kg and 187cm tall, was instrumental for the Suva forward pack in their semifinal 39-15 win against Nadi yesterday.

Last year he played a key role for the Fiji Airways Fijian Drua in their first Australia National Rugby Championship title win and also for the Swire Shipping Fijian Latui side.

The former Ratu Kadavulevu School student was in the team that won the Deans Trophy in 2015,

“I started playing rugby at Marist Primary, then I went to Tonga, New Zealand and I finished my high school in RKS in 2015.”

Tagi is the first nephew of former national 7s and Crusaders winger Marika Vunibaka.

“My uncle Vunibaka is always there motivating me and also my mum and dad Luke Tagi Senior.

“Whenever I play, I always think of my parents.”

More To Offer: McKee

Meanwhile, Flying Fijians head coach John McKee believes it’s a great opportunity for the big prop to prove himself among veterans Leeroy Atalifo, Campese Ma’afu, Eroni Mawi, Peni Ravai, Manasa Saulo, Kalivati Tawake and Joeli Veitayaki.

“It’s an opportunity for him to go head to head with our experienced players.

“He’s got more to offer, things to learn around the scrummaging, the technical part of the game.

“We will see how it goes in the wider group. Hope he gets game against NZ Maori, it’s up to him how far he progresses.”

Waqaniburotu leads

France-based utility forward Dominiko Waqaniburotu has been retained as the captain of the Flying Fijians team for the Maori All Blacks clash and also to the Pacific Nations Cup competition.

Waqaniburotu who plays for Brive led the Flying Fijians in their successful outing during the autumn tour test match last year.

“Waqaniborutu certainly led by example during the November tour last year,”McKee said.

“I think his leadership was instrumental in helping the team to prepare for and put on such a great performance against the French team in Paris.

“I really look forward to working with Dominiko as captain and I know we have a very strong leadership group in this team who will be driving a lot of team values and behaviours while in camp and at the Rugby World Cup.”

He named a powerful 42-member squad as he works toward finalising his squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan in September.

McKee said he’s happy that all the players have declared their availability and are injury free heading into the camp on July 1 in Suva.

“We have got a very good balance across the squad of experienced players but also some younger players who have been putting pressure on more senior players.”

“Being named in this squad is no guarantee of going to the Rugby World Cup. There is a lot of competition and work to be done across all our camps and the Maori All Blacks test matches and Pacific Nations Cup.”

Squad:

Props: Leeroy Atilifo, Campese Ma’afu, Eroni Mawi, Peni Ravai, Manasa Saulo, Luke Tagi, Kalivati Tawake, Joeli Veitayaki; Hookers: Mesulame Dolokoto, Samuel Matavesi, Tuvere Vugakoto; Locks: Tevita Cavubati, Leone Nakarawa, Api Ratuniyarawa, Tevita Ratuva, Albert Tuisue; Backrow: Johnny Dyer, Semi Kunatani, Viliame Mata, Nemani Nagusa, Mosese Voka, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Peceli Yato; Halfbacks: Frank Lomani, Nikola Matawalu, Henry Senioli, Serupepeli Vularika; Flyhalves: Ben Volavola, Alivereti Veitokani; Centres: Levani Botia, Sevanaia Galala, Semi Radradra, Jale Vatubua; Utility Back; Josh Matavesi; Wingers: Vereniki Goneva, Filipo Nakosi, Waisea Nayacalevu, Patrick Osbourne, Eroni Sau, Josua Tuisova; Fullbacks: Kini Murimurivalu, Seta Tuicuvu.-Leone Cabenatabua

Edited by Osea Bola

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