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Drua Not For Me, Nadolo Tells

Nadolo has hailed next year’s inclusion of the Drua into Super Rugby, but the 33-year-old believes he is not young anymore to head back to the island and play a part in the franchise’s debut season.
02 May 2021 17:30
Drua Not For Me, Nadolo Tells
Nemani Nadolo in action for Leicester Tigers. Photo: Leicester

Burly winger Nemani Nadolo has stepped aside and made way for upcoming Fijian ruggers to play for the Fijian Drua in next year’s Super Rugby competition.

Nadolo has hailed next year’s inclusion of the Drua into Super Rugby, but the 33-year-old believes he is not young anymore to head back to the island and play a part in the franchise’s debut season.

This is where the Drua are going to take on the franchise clubs of New Zealand and Australia.

Having moved from France to England in 2020, Nadolo ended his Test level semi-retirement when he featured for the Flying Fijians in their Autumn Nations Cup win over Georgia at Murrayfield, last December.

That was his first appearance at that level for two-and-a-half years and he went on to score a hat-trick of tries.

However, while he is an enthusiastic supporter of the Drua gaining recent inclusion in next year’s revised Super Rugby structure, Nadolo doesn’t feel it would be right if he played in a tournament he last featured in with the Crusaders in 2016.

“No,” Nadolo told Rugby Pass when asked if he was a potential recruit for the Fijian Super Rugby franchise.

“I have thought about it, but for me, that’s not my time or place. It’s time for those young guys to make their mark,” he said.

“I don’t want to be that guy that is taking the spot of a young kid from the village who potentially could go on and do great things.

“After this (Leicester), I will be one of those spectators on the sideline.

“Super Rugby, they play really quick over there,” he added.

“I’m not saying it’s not quick here but I have done my time in the Super Rugby arena and I want to finish well here in the Premiership.”

Extention with Leicester

Nadolo, who penned an extension to his Leicester contract on March 8 for the 2021/22 season in England, doesn’t believe the new Super Rugby Drua team will automatically stop the frequent flow of talent from Fiji.

Until recent weeks, the dream for youngsters on the island had only been to get contracted abroad or pick up a school scholarship.

However, the Drua will now in time become an inspiration for local talent to aspire to represent.

“I don’t think it is going to stop the influx of players,” he admitted.

“Fiji, our biggest export is rugby players so we are always going to have guys come overseas. It’s a no-brainer but this is going to give guys a lot to look forward to.

“A lot of the kids there grow up wanting to play overseas.

“Their first thing is ‘I want to go play in France’ or ‘I want to go play in England, I want to get a school’s scholarship’.

Drua Opportunity

“With the Drua being there they have got an opportunity, they have something to look forward to.

“We needed a professional team on the island and it is going to be great for them. These young kids coming through, there is so much raw talent that gets untapped.

“Fiji rugby are working really hard to make sure they can keep their best players on the island. It will be interesting to see who comes back, who goes back. They are going to have to mix it with the local guys there.

“It’s something that we have been crying out for and we have finally got the opportunity,” he continued.

“It’s going to be great for the local guys on the island, it gives them an opportunity to play professionally on the island rather than having to come to this side of the world or New Zealand or Australia.

“It’s going to benefit the national side three, four years down the track. I’m pretty pumped about it and they will hopefully do well.

“I look at it as the Jaguares of Argentina. Japan as well, they had the Sunwolves. Their national teams benefitted massively and you can see that in the World Cups and all those big games.”

Meanwhile, Nadolo and Kini Murimurivalu helped Tigers reached the Challenge Cup final yesterday morning.

Tigers made a sensational second half comeback to beat Ulster 33-24 in the semifinal.

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj



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