Saulo Adds Power To Drua

Saulo, had been the country’s best tighthead prop holding his own against the world’s best at the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups.
13 Oct 2021 18:13
 Saulo Adds Power To Drua
Manasa Saulo plays for Atlanta Rugby in the American Major League Rugby in June

Veteran tighthead prop, Manasa Saulo, is one of the latest inclusions into the Fijian Drua squad.

The selection of the 32-year-old signifies the Drua franchise’s in­tention to hold their own in the scrums and become a competitive side in the Super Rugby Pacific competition when it gets under­way on February 18.

Saulo, had been the country’s best tight head prop holding his own against the world’s best at the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups.

At the Super Rugby Pacific, he’ll be our man to face tough men like Joe Moody (Crusaders), Ethan de Groot (Highlanders) , Alex Hodgman (Blues), Nepo Laulala Blues), Tyrel Lomax (Hurri­canes), Ofa Tuungafasi (Blues), George Bower (Crusaders), Tan­iela Tupou (Queensland Reds), James Slipper (Brumbies) and the list goes on.

Saulo was groomed by former Flying Fijians scrum coach, Alan ‘Grumpy’ Muir.

In June, he signed up with Rugby Atlanta (ATL) and played in the American Major League Rugby (MLR) where he was praised for helping improve their scrums.

After beating Houston Saber­Cats 35-15, Saulo who came in as a sub was named in the competi­tion’s Team of the Week.

MLR’s Aaron Castro stated: “When Saulo came onto the pitch for Atlanta, Nicolas Solveyra (Sa­berCats) had someone to contend with.

“The Atlanta scrum problems were immediately fixed as it then became a great attacking plat­form for the home team.”

The stats (when he came in the second half) showed: “On attack, Saulo made a carry of 13 metres and on defence, he completed four tackles and had 13 ruck ar­rivals in the breakdowns.”

Interim Drua franchise chief executive officer Brian Thorburn said the Wainawaqa, Naitasiri, strongman brings a vast wealth of knowledge and experience to what will be a very young squad.

“He has been to two Rugby World Cups and fans will remem­ber him as part of a scrum that surprised the Wallabies in 2015,” Thorburn said.

“Manasa is a real product of the Fijian rugby system, having been a part of the national age-group teams, (Ratu) Sukuna Bowl and provincial rugby.

“He is also an international journeyman, playing top-level competitions in France for Tou­lon and the United Kingdom with London Irish. His experience will be invaluable.”

Also named was prop Samuela Tawake who had been groomed to take over from Saulo.

Tawake played for the Flying Fijians in their 33-31 win over the Barbarians in Twickenham, Lon­don, in 2019.

Last year, he played for Naitasiri in the Skipper Cup and later rep­resented the Flying Fijians at the Autumn Nations Cup.

This year, he joined Rugby Unit­ed New York to play in the MLR competition.

“Samuela Tawake, is one of our rising stars who has already earned a Flying Fijians cap,” Thorburn said.

“He also came through our Un­der-20 programme, has played for Canterbury and Manawatu in New Zealand’s National Provin­cial Championship.

“He is well-known for both his scrummaging and mobil­ity around the park. We know he will fight hard for a place in our match day squads.”

The other players named in the Drua squad include Suva Rugby lock Sorovakatini Tuifagalele, Fi­jian 7s squad member for the To­kyo 2020 Olympic Games Kitione Salawa (Jnr) and promising Mel­bourne Rising backrower Joseva Tamani.

“After making waves for Ovalau domestically, Joseva has been with Melbourne Rising in Aus­tralia’s National Rugby Champi­onship competition.

“He has also been part of the wider NSW Waratahs squad as an injury cover in 2021 Super Rugby, so has already been exposed to this environment.

“Joseva is another one of those forwards who can run like backs that Fiji is blessed with, and we’re excited about what he brings to the Fijian Drua,” Thor­burn added.


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