Olympic cham­pi­ons chase NRL gold!

Fiji sev­ens stars aim to be­come the next Semi Radradra

Rugby League Week - - News - BY TONY ADAMS

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.

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