Rugby | SPORTS

Our Top Locals For Drua

We’ve watched how our local-based players from the Skipper Fiji Rugby Championship competition are now thriving in the Super Rugby Pacific competition.
29 Mar 2022 13:15
Our Top Locals For Drua
From left: Classy Naitasiri centre Filimoni Waqainabete, Naitasiri captain Sireli Kaloucava and Anasa Qaranivalu in Suva.

We’ve watched how our local-based players from the Skipper Fiji Rugby Championship competition are now thriving in the Super Rugby Pacific competition.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, these players have shone in the 2020 and 2021 (which had to be called off) domestic competition

The Namosi backline combina­tion of halfback Peni Matawalu, second five-eight Kalaveti Ra­vouvou, Onisi Ratave at centre and Vinaya ‘Bossman’ Habosi on the wing.

 

Then Suva’s strong running cen­tre, Apisalome Vota, hooker Tevita Ikanivere, stand-in captain Meli Derenalagi and lanky lock Soro­vakatini Tuifagalele.

Then the likes of Naitasiri tight­head prop Samu Tawake and Chris Minimbi along with Nadroga’s Jone Koroiduadua, Timoci Sauvoli and Rusiate Nasove

Yasawa’s Napolioni Bolaca and 20-year-old openside flanker, Ki­tione Salawa.

 

And even former All Blacks star and now TV commentator, Andrew Mehrtens, is betting on Nadi flank­er Vilive Miramira, to be one of the stars of this year’s competition.

Other local-based players who are yet to get a run includes, Tuidraki Samusamuvodre, Meli Tuni, Ki­tione Taliga, Leone Nawai, and Ka­lione Nasoko.

 

Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer, John O’Connor, had ear­lier explained the reason why this year’s Skipper comp is run parallel with the Super Rugby.

This is because of injuries and the need to get one of our local players to join the Drua.

 

This has lifted the standard of the Skipper comp to another level and is reflected with the close scores from the two rounds of matches played so far.

This had not been the case when compared to past years.

There have been some standout performances and already players are putting their hands up for se­lection, if the need arises.

After two rounds, let’s take a look at our top five Skipper players:

 

1.FILIMONI WAQAINABETE (NAITASIRI)

He is the best centre in the coun­try right now.

The 24-year-old shows a lot of class with his running lines, abil­ity to break tackles, create space for the wingers and strong in de­fence. He scored two tries against Nadroga, last Saturday.

Waqainabete, played for Canter­bury in the 2018 ITM Cup in New Zealand.

In 2020, he joined Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan and played under coach Robbie Deans.

The Knights play in the Japanese Top League.

 

2. JACK VOLAVOLA (NADROGA)

The 20-year-old full-back is a star in the making.

Volavola starred for Nadroga in their 29-14 win over Tailevu with a try and accurate goalkicking.

Last Saturday, he showed a lot of composure at Naluwai and kept the Stallions in the match with his penalties as they fell short 29-27 to Naitasiri in the double-header clash.

Don’t be surprised, if Volavola is moved back to his usual first five-eight position this Saturday or even get signed up by one of the French Top 14 clubs.

 

3. VILIKESA DRIU (NADI)

Dubbed ‘Pocket Rocket’ because of his enormous speed. In 2020, he ran around Suva winger Ala­sio ‘Mr Nitro’ Naduva to score two tries and had been doing it since then.

A much fitter, Driu scored a try in Nadi’s upset 20-12 win over Suva in the Skipper opener.

He is our answer to South Africa’s Bryan Habana and Cheslin Kolbe.

Imagine, having Driu and Habosi as our Super Rugby wingers.

 

4. IMANUELI NACIVA (NORTHLAND)

This tighthead prop has improved a lot especially under coach, Isake Katonibau. The 24-year-old is a member of the High Performance Unit (HPU).

His potential was identified by former Flying Fijians No.8 Koli Se­wabu who roped him in to play for Naitasiri Under-20 and later repre­sented the Fijian U20 side and the Fijian Warriors in the Pacific Chal­lenge.

5.MAIKA BALEINALOTU (TAILEVU)

The seasoned full-back showed his class in the 22-20 win over Suva, last Saturday.

His ability to join the backline when on attack and create space for his wingers has been the hall­mark of his play.

Reads the game well and safe under the high ball.

 

 

Feedbacks: leonec@fijisun.com.fj 



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