Rugby | SPORTS

Local Based Players Deserve To Be Counted

The Swire Shipping Fijian Drua has confirmed the inclusion of Europe-based, Mesake Doge, and rugby league convert Iosefo Masi to their squad.
16 Aug 2022 13:17
Local Based Players Deserve To Be Counted

The Swire Shipping Fijian Drua has confirmed the inclusion of Europe-based, Mesake Doge, and rugby league convert Iosefo Masi to their squad.

But what about our local-based players?

Last September, when the Drua was issued its provisional license to play in the Super Rugby Pacific, it was stated that the team will create a professional pathway for play­ers in the country.

So, what’s going on here?

Our local-based players stood with Rugby House on the Super Rugby dream right from day one. Although, there was a delay in the issuance of the provisional license, they waited.

Most of our overseas-based players at that time turned their backs by signing up with overseas clubs. Some even went to the extent of joining second division clubs.

A few like Masi, switched to rugby league, when he signed up with NRL club North Queensland Cowboys.

Some of our sevens’ players from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games gold medal triumph were the first to be given offer letters to join the Drua but declined.

Probably, at that time they thought that the Drua bid won’t get off the ground – however, it was not to be.

When the Super Rugby Pacific approval came through; it was our local-based players that stepped-up to fill the gaps.

We even had to get Bayden Kerr out of re­tirement to be part of the Drua campaign; his contribution to the team is highly appre­ciated.

Our local-based players stepped-up and put on a whirlwind performance in their debut Super Rugby year.

Players like Vinaya Habosi, Kalaveti Ra­vouvou, Apisalome Vota, Meli Derenalagi, Vilive Miramira, Kitione Salawa, Meli Tuni, Tevita Ikanivere, Tuifagalele Sorovakatini, Tuidraki Samusamuvodre, Peni Matawalu, Timoci Sauvoli, Leone Nawai and the list goes on, made their mark among the world’s best players.

They stood their ground and showed that they have what it takes to be the best.

The impact of their courageous perfor­mance was evident in this year’s Skipper Fiji Rugby Championship. The 16-week competi­tion was played at a higher level with upset wins being the norm almost every weekend.

The competition offered a lot of excitement due to the abundance of talented players, as they knew that they are a stone away from playing Super Rugby.

For them, it’s a big letdown when they see what is happening.

It’s sad that the local-based players are again going to be overlooked as first choice with preference seemed to be given to overseas-based players. This is regardless whether these overseas-based players have performed for their clubs or have given up on what they had set out to do.

We cannot allow this to happen. Our local-based players need to be treated fairly.

The decision makers at Rugby House need­to act swiftly to protect the interests of our local-based players. It’s a now or never situa­tion for Fiji Rugby, as we need to stand up for our homegrown rugby talents.

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj



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