Olympic champions chase NRL gold!
Fiji sevens stars aim to become the next Semi Radradra
THREE MEMBERS OF THE Fijian rugby sevens team that won Olympic gold in Rio last year are keen to defect to rugby league. The Fijians were one of the feelgood stories of the Rio Games, winning their country’s first ever gold medal and sparking wild celebrations in the island nation.
Now the trio are looking to cash in on that success with NRL contracts — and they’ve attracted massive interest from clubs.
Masivesi Dakuwaqa, a 22-year-old winger who’s big enough to play back row, 27-year-old utility Jerry Tuwai and back-rower Jasa Veremalua, also 27, all have big builds, run like the wind and seem ideally suited to the demands of league.
The trio have been brought to the NRL by former Bulldogs centre Daryl Millard, who is part-Fijian and set to become an NRL-accredited player manager.
“They’re very keen and would be sensational in league,” Millard says.
“There are highlights of them on YouTube and they’ve been sent out to the clubs, who have been blown away by their speed and size. “There’s a lot of interest. “Masivesi is very keen, being the youngest of the three, and he has already played some league in Fiji,” Millard continues.
“He weighs 116 kilos but can really motor so he would be a real handful for opponents out wide. Masivesi also has great ball skills for a big man – he’s really something special.”
Fijians have a long tradition of starring in Australian rugby league.
Big prop Apisai Toga was a trailblazer from ’68-’72, having a successful career with St George. Canberra recruited Noa Nadruku in the 1990s and he was an overnight sensation, becoming one of the best wingers in the game and winning a grand final with the Raiders.
Akuila Uate has scored over 100 tries for Newcastle while most recently, Semi Radradra has become a cult hero among Parramatta fans.
“The thing is, there are heaps more Radradras running around Fiji just waiting for their chance,” Millard says.
“Rugby has never had a higher profile in Fiji since they won the gold medal – the players are treated like gods.
“When they won the gold, the country stopped and celebrated for a week – it may be the biggest thing to ever happen in Fiji.
“The three boys I’m looking after still live in Fiji but are looking to get good deals to look after their families.”
FIJI’S NEW WAVE Clockwise from top: Masivesi Dakuwaqa, Jasa Veremalua and Jerry Tuwai are amazing athletes.