Flying Fijians Experience

I learned a lot of new things from Fijians playing overseas on what is needed to be a professional player-Manueli Ratuniyarawa
25 Jan 2021 15:46
Flying Fijians Experience
Flying Fijians squad member, Manueli Ratuniyarawa, played for BLK Stallions during the Super 7s Series at Lawaqa Park, Sigatoka, on January 23, 2021. Photo: Leon Lord


Manueli Ratuniyarawa is the first from his village in Korotogo, Baravi, Nadroga to be a Flying Fijian.

And the 28 year old revealed for the first time the stress of being isolated during the Autumn Nations Cup in France last month.

He was one of the seven locals selected by Flying Fijians head coach Vern Cotter after playing for Nadroga during the 2020 Skipper Cup Premiership.

Having maternal links to Malake in Ra Ratuniyarawa spoke on how fellow debutants  Haereiti Hetet, Tevita Ikanivere, Samuela Tawake, Simione Kuruvoli, Serupepeli Vularika and  Jone Koroiduadua coped of being in lockdown away from home.

“It was a great experience for me. I was blessed to be one of the local players selected by Cotter,”he said.

“I learned a lot of new things from Fijians playing overseas on what is needed to be a professional player.

“It was really an eye-opener for me but being in lockdown really affected our mental health.

“It is totally a different experience.

“But we were always communicating with team members encouraging each other.

“I often call home during that time to help me cope with being alone.

“Because when you are alone your mind can drift, losing focus.

“Communicating with senior players also helped a lot. They were always looking out for us.”


Super 7s Series

Ratuniyarawa played for the BLK Stallions in Fiji Rugby Union’s Super 7s Series over the weekend at Lawaqa Park, Sigatoka.

Olympian and fellow villager, Jasa Veremalua, was also part of the team.

He said it was part of his off- season training programme before the Skipper Cup Premiership season starts in April.

The former Wardens 7s rugby team captain said he would focus on making the Flying Fijians for the June tests.

“My participation for the BLK Stallions was part of my off-season training programme before Skipper Cup resumes,” he said.

“Last year was my first outing for Nadroga, and I’m glad that I made it.

“I used to play for Wardens when I was employed with Fiji Corrections Services.

“I also played for Uluinakau, where I was called into the national 7s squad and then switched to 15s last year.

“I did not expect to be called in early for the Flying Fijians as my target was to play for Nadroga.

“I will try my best to be in the Flying Fijians squad in June and the tour at the end of the year.”

Ratuniyarawa attended Sigatoka Methodist Primary and played for Nadroga in the Milo Kaji competition.

He completed high school at Queen Victoria  where he participated in the Deans Trophy competition.

Former national 7s reps Veremalua and Tuidriva Bainivalu are also from Korotogo.



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