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Search For New No.15

At 31 and having played in the last three Rugby World Cup (2011, 2015, 2019) we should not risk and expect him to be at the NO.15 at the 2023 RWC.
01 Jan 2021 09:27
Search For New No.15
Flying Fijians fullback Kini Murimurivalu during a training at the ANZ Stadium last year. Photo: Ronald Kumar

The talent search of those to understudy our aging Flying Fijians in key positions should now a matter of priority as we now enter the New Year.

With tests against the All Blacks and Ireland on the calendar, we need to have players suited for the role.

One such position is fullback occupied by Kini Murimurivalu for the last 10 years.

At 31 and having played in the last three Rugby World Cup (2011, 2015, 2019), we should not take risk and expect him to be the No.15 again at the 2023 RWC in France.

The Lami, Rewa native made his debut for the Flying Fijians at the 2011 RWC where he played in three matches.

With massive experience, he would be 33 at the 2023 RWC in France

The former Queen Victoria School student is playing good rugby having signed up playing Gallagher Premiership Rugby with the Leicester Tigers.

And he would definitely target a spot at the 2023 RWC.

This is a time for young talents to shine and make a mark.

Over the years many promising young talents were identified but none have been developed abroad in their natural positions.

Players like former Fijian Under-20 reps Joseph Mar and Osea Waqa and a few others who have gone overseas for exposure and experience in the position.

Osea Waqa.

Osea Waqa.

During the 2020 Skipper Cup Premiership competition, four names that stood out at fullback are Namosi’s Meli Nakarawa,Suva’s Enele Malele, Naitasiri’s Kini Douglas and the mercurial Alivereti Veitokani.

Alivereti Veitokani.

Alivereti Veitokani.

Experts believe that out of the four, Veitokani has shown flashes of brilliance of being the complete package to hold down this position.

He possesses the counter attack oriented approach, using shifty footwork to maneuver.

However, he still hasn’t shown the polish in other areas of the game like game management, pinpoint precision in his kicking game and safety under the high ball. A season with London Irish and a consistent Skipper Cup 2020, Veitokani is the best option we have at the moment and playing under Coach Vern Cotter management will raise his game to the level expected at test rugby.

We still have time on our side to identify the perfect player for the position.

According to some rugby pundits we simply cannot put a blanket over it and play a band aid solution to fill that void.

Our international calendar for 2021 indicates that Fijian rugby will have its most competitive test window in a decade.

Ireland and All Blacks in July/ August and our Autumn schedule will include 2 if not 3 Tier One tests with either England ( Nov 6) or Scotland ( Nov 20 ) and the possibility of France ( Nov 20) or Wales ( Nov 13 ) . A minimum of four important tests as we build up to the RWC 2023.

Other notable names include Adrian Sanday (Oyonnax). We are seven months out from our first big test and for the Flying Fijians sake we need to uncover the next last line of defence to bolster our prospects in 2021 and beyond.

Adrian Sanday.

Adrian Sanday.

Feedback: simione.haravanua@fijisun.com.fj



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