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‘Tai Ma’ Eyes Wallaby Jersey

He’s got the game to stump opponents and the name to torment commentators, Australia rugby’s rising star; Mark Nawaqanitawase has a bright future.
30 Jun 2022 16:39
‘Tai Ma’ Eyes Wallaby Jersey
Mark Nawaqanitawase of Australia A in Suva on June 28, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

He’s got the game to stump opponents and the name to torment commentators, Australia rugby’s rising star; Mark Nawaqanitawase has a bright future.

Watch the Bolabola white stallion, Nawaqanitawase, 21, display enter­prising runs and audacious flick passes when Australia A take on Samoa at whta will soon be called the HFC stadium).

Australia born and originally from Nalebaleba, Bemana, Na­droga Navosa, his father Sevuloni Nawaqanitawase Senior had moved to Sydney in 1991 to play rugby league for the Balmain Tigers.

He had participated in the 13-man code for six years until the age of 14, when he was encouraged to switch codes as he was at a rugby playing school in Sydney.

“I have been coming home to cel­ebrate Christmas and New Years with my family up in the Sigatoka Valley, this is the first time I would be playing at home,” Nawaqanita­wase who is referred to as Tai Ma by his close family members said.

“I came over six years ago and it is good to be catching up with fami­lies. It is special and I treasure eve­ry moment,” he said.

Nawaqanitawase comes from the Tuisorisori sporting family which his paternal grandfather Marika (his namesake) is the eldest. Mari­ka senior is the older brother of pioneering dual women sprint champion, New Caledonia based Miriama Tuisorisori Chambault.

Back in 2020, the then 19-year-old Junior Wallabies representative announced himself in senior ranks with an eye catching display in the Waratahs 40-21 trial win over the Highlanders in Sydney.

Waratahs coach Rob Penney, who called him a “gem” roped him in for selection in the opening round of Super Rugby and he has been in the running in team since.

He is one of the top performers for the Waratahs in the Super Rugby Pacific.

He is number five in the Super Rugby stats making 13 clean breaks.

“Obviously, I’d love to play for the Wallabies one day,” he said.

“I think this opportunity will get me there. If I play a few good games coming up, then we will see what happens.”

Playing against fellow Fijians in the Super Rugby Pacific was a great experience for Nawaqanitawase. He indicated it was always a challenge when it comes to Fijian players.

“It’s special,” he said.

“I know couple of the players from the Drua team and I am closely re­lated to Jone Koroiduadua. It’s also always funny how they come for you. Always tough against them – knowing how good they are.

From left: Jone Koroiduadua, Mark Nawaqanitawase and dad, Sevuloni Nawaqanitawase.

From left: Jone Koroiduadua, Mark Nawaqanitawase and dad, Sevuloni Nawaqanitawase.

Koroiduadua and Nawaqanita­wase’s grandfathers are first cous­ins.

“In the next few weeks when we do play the Flying Fijians I will be expecting the big hits and the good play that they have.”

He said fellow Nadroga man, Vi­naya Habosi was a tough opponent.

“I was up against Habosi. It’s fun­ny because Habosi was actually at my house for Christmas when they were in Sydney.

“I hope to see my family and I thank them for the support. There are always a lot of messages espe­cially after my Waratahs game.”

His older brother Albert Nawaqan­itawase plays Number 8 for West Harbour Pirates in Sydney.

Meanwhile Fiji will play against Tonga at 3:30pm at the ANZ Sta­dium while Australia A take on Sa­moa at 1pm.

Feedback: sereana.salalo@fijisun.com.fj



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