Rugby | SPORTS

This Is For Dad And Me: Iris

It’s more than just rugby for me, says Rooster Chicken Fijian debutant Iris Verebalavu.
16 Sep 2022 15:00
This Is For Dad And Me: Iris
The Rooster Chicken Fijiana 15’s side during the captain’s run at the HFC Bank Stadium on September 15, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

It’s more than just rugby for me, says Rooster Chicken Fijian debutant Iris Verebalavu.

The Namena, Tailevu, woman will make her Test debut off the bench when the Fijiana XVs take on Wahi­ne Maori at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva, tonight.

At the age of 23, the young prop is keen to represent her country for the first time.

Speaking to SUNsports Verebalavu said she is looking forward to to­day’s game.

“I am honoured and grateful for the opportunity, I’m really happy that I’m here,” she said.

“I can’t wait to get on the pitch to­morrow and not only play but repre­sent my culture, a good way to rep­resent my dad and his heritage. It means a lot to me and my dad.

“It was really on my radar to play in the World Cup or professional rugby because it was like a side gig or weekend kind of thing.

“It’s been tough but also a very re­warding experience, I think I’ve also played a lot of Australian rugby, which is structured.

“To come and experience a free style of rugby and also to connect to my Fijian side, I’m really grateful to them for giving me this opportu­nity.”

Verebalavu currently plays for the ACT Brumbies women’s team.

“A couple of the coaches from the Fijiana approached me a few years back about playing for the team.

“To find myself in a team like the Fijiana is more than what I expected this comes with a lot of hard work, sacrifice and commitment.

“This is a totally different experi­ence and I’m so looking to my play­ing my first game home.

“That obviously changed since the last 12 to 24 months I was having fun playing club footy to a now more professional environment and hope­fully going to the World Cup.”

The Rooster Chicken Fijiana 15’s side during the captain’s run at the HFC Bank Stadium on September 15, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

The Rooster Chicken Fijiana 15’s side during the captain’s run at the HFC Bank Stadium on September 15, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Tough England

Fijiana’s World Cup pool oppo­nent England became the first team in history to win 25 Tests in a row when they finished their World Cup preparations with a 73-7 win over Wales at Bristol’s Ashton Gate.

The Red Roses scored 11tries to Wales’ one. It was the last chance for both coaches to look at their sides before they name their 32-player World Cup squads.

England head coach Simon Middleton said winning 25 in­ternationals in a row was “sensational”, adding that he was “pretty close” to confirming his World Cup squad. “We will have a sit down tonight (last night) and go through it again, sleep on it and then have a quick meeting in the morning and then we will know for sure,” he explained.

“There are just a couple of posi­tions we want to debate a bit more.”

The Fijiana XVs are in Pool C with England, France and South Africa.

Feedback: simione.haravanua@fijisun.com.fj



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