Fiji Sports | SPORTS

Philip Baselala Steps In For Frank Lomani

A last-minute change saw 19-year-old Philip Baselala stepping in for Frank Lom­ani in the Swire Shipping Fijian Drua’s Match 23 squad against the NSW Waratahs in Sydney.
19 May 2023 18:00
Philip Baselala Steps In For Frank Lomani
Swire Shipping Fijian Drua halfback Philip Baselala (left) and flanker Kitione Salawa during the team’s training session in Sydney on May 16, 2023, 2023. Photo: Fijian Drua Media

A last-minute change saw 19-year-old Philip Baselala stepping in for Frank Lom­ani in the Swire Shipping Fijian Drua’s Match 23 squad against the NSW Waratahs in Sydney.

Drua head coach Mick Byrne opted to start with Peni Matawalu at halfback with Baselala on the bench. Lomani was injured in Perth and is yet to fully recover.

Byrne is banking on the halves combination of Matawalu and first five-eighth Caleb Muntz to spark the Drua backline.

In the forwards, the return of tighthead prop Mesake Doge after 11 months of injury rehab in the highlight of the selection.

Doge who hails from Bulu village in Nadogo, Macuata, played for the Flying Fijians in the two Test matches against the All Blacks in 2021.

He has been named on the bench along with rookie loosehead prop Emosi Tuqiri.

Meanwhile, the Waratahs has re-signed of one of the most exciting emerging players in World Rugby, Mark Nawaqanitawase, for the 2024 season.

Nawaqanitawase is a graduate of the NSW rugby pathways, at­tending St Patricks College in Strathfield, playing for the NSW Waratahs Academy, club rugby at Eastwood, before representing the NSW Country Eagles in the Na­tional Rugby Championship.

The explosive winger was a stand­out performer for the Junior Wal­labies team that was runners-up to France in the 2019 World Champi­onships, scoring a try in the first minute of the match.

Nawaqanitawase burst onto the scene in his Super Rugby debut in 2020, scoring a double against the Crusaders in Christchurch in the opening round of the competition.

The big winger had a breakout Super Rugby Season under Darren Coleman in 2022 earning selection in the Australia A programme for the Pacific Cup campaign and tour of Japan.

He is originally from Nalebale­ba, Bemana, in Nadroga and is the cousin of Swire Shipping Fi­jian Drua tighthead prop Jone Ko­roiduadua.

Strong performances in the Australia A programme saw Nawaqanitawase earn selection in Dave Rennie’s Wallaby squad for their end of season tour, where he scored a double against Wales. Nawaqanitwase backed up his impressive debut the following week with his double sparking a remarkable Wallabies win over Wales at Cardiff.

Currently, Nawaqanitawase leads the Waratahs in run metres, tackle breaks, offloads, and carries, dem­onstrating his all-around ability on the field.

Waratahs head coach, Darren Coleman, said: “Mark is an ex­ceptional talent who has come through the NSW rugby pathways, and we’re thrilled that he has de­cided to continue his development with us.”

“He’s an electric attacking player who has already made a signifi­cant impact at the highest levels of the game. We’re excited to see what he can achieve in the future.”

Wallabies Head Coach Eddie Jones said: “Mark was impressive in his games for the Wallabies in Europe, but it is a new season in 2023 and he has to earn his posi­tion back in the squad.

“He is fast and strong and he scores some spectacular tries, but he’s at his best when he’s doing the hard yards for his team and work­ing off the ball.”

Nawaqanitawase said: “I’m really happy to re-sign with the Waratahs and Australian Rugby.”

“This is where I started my rugby journey, and I’m proud to continue representing my state and the Wal­labies.

“We’ve got a great group of play­ers and coaches both here and in the national set up, and I’m look­ing forward to playing my part in the team’s success in the future.”


To read more, click on this link to access the full article and details:


Story By:

Advertise with us

Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.

By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.

Rewa Diwali Promo Banner
For All Fiji Sun Advertising
Fijisun E-edition