SPORTS

Karalaini Naisewa: ‘We Struggled’

Financial hardship in Australia drives Fijiana Drua to retain Super W title in style.
12 May 2023 17:00
Karalaini Naisewa: ‘We Struggled’
Karalaini Naisewa. Photo: Salote Qalubau

Tough Rooster Chicken Fijiana Drua No.8 Karalaini Naisewa fought hard to hold back tears when she spoke about the financial hardships they faced while in Australia during the Super W championship.

Naisewa told SUNsports yesterday that she was always grateful to the Fijian communities in Australia for coming to their rescue.

“Back in Perth, Sydney and Brisbane, we went through a lot of hardships like meal allowance and our (daily) meals,” she said.

“I want to thank the Fijian communities in Perth and Sydney and Brisbane for giving us what Fiji Rugby couldn’t give us.”

 

The Nawamagi, Nadroga, native with maternal links to Nakorosule in Naitasiri, spoke during the team’s thanksgiving function where they received their $80,000 bonus payout from Future Farms Pte Limited (trading as Rooster Poultry) in Navau, Ba.

Despite all the hardships, the Drua defied the odds to retain the Super W title.

Naisewa said after last year’s Super W win, Rooster Chicken gave them $40,000 in bonus payment, where they received $1000 each. Future Farms’ chief executive o f ficer; Stanley Raniga, said the distribution was done by FRU and he was not aware of how much the players got individually, but FRU decided on that according to their agreement.

 

“I wanted to retain the title because we had new girls. Last year’s win was history, but these new girls came into the Drua team and I thank them for playing their hearts out for us to win the championship again,” she said.

Naisewa highlighted that they were now focused on next Saturday’s Test clash against the Wallaroos in Sydney, Australia, followed by the Oceania Championship.

“At the same time, I don’t know about my recruitment to the Fiji Navy and I’m still waiting for that,” she added.

Head coach Inoke Male (pictured inset) said the hardships they faced together as a team was the turning point of their campaign.

 

The Drua finished fourth on the points table after a shock 23- 10 loss to the Force after they were humiliated by Waratahs and Reds during the round robin competition.

The Bitila Tawake-captained side came back firing to beat Waratahs 20-17 in the semifinal and Reds 38-30 in the grand final.

Now, Male said the players were eager to face the Wallaroos.

“When we came back, most of the girls went back to their families after being away for three weeks and this has energised them,” he said.

 

Male said the $80,000 bonus payout was a much-needed boost for the team.

“I think it’s a good initiative for the girls especially going forward for the Fijiana games in two weeks’ time.

“We’re thankful to Rooster Chicken as it will help the girls look after their loved ones at home,” he said.

“The girls deserve a lot. They worked really hard this year despite getting in new players to replace those who left for greener pastures with the other franchise clubs.”

 

Story by: salote.qalubau@fijisun.com.fj 



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