Sim­ple does it for Na­soko

mailife - - Contents - By PHOEBE SCHENK Photos by IVAMERE ROKOVESA

He was once one of count­less other Fi­jian boys play­ing rugby on the beach, with a co­conut or any­thing else they could find. Now Kalione Na­soko proudly wears the Voda­fone 7s jersey, hav­ing not only hav­ing won the 2015-16 World Se­ries, but also be­ing named one of the best play­ers in the world. He scored twice in the fi­nal to earn him ‘Man of the Match’ and a nom­i­na­tion for ‘Best Rookie’. The Waya Levu vil­lager from the Ya­sawas has come a long way from makeshift rugby balls, but the star full­back ‘still feels nor­mal’. “I go back to my vil­lage on week­ends to spend time with my fam­ily and so­cialise with friends, which helps.” Spearfish­ing and div­ing, along­side hearty serv­ings of fish in lolo char­ac­terise a typ­i­cal week­end back at home, he said. But bal­anc­ing this with his achieve­ments is surely a mam­moth task be­cause of the ex­tremely swift rise to fame of the 26 year old since be­ing spot­ted by former 7s coach Ben Ryan at a tour­na­ment in Nac­ula, Na­soko. He had left school at Form 6 and be­come a ho­tel worker at a re­sort in Bo­taira Beach and the na­tional squad was just a pipedream Na­soko had since his early teens. Like many oth­ers, he dis­tinctly re­calls watch­ing the 2005 Hong Kong fi­nal and idol­is­ing Waisale Serevi who led the team to vic­tory…“the way he ap­proaches the game…his pas­sion and ded­i­ca­tion I’ve al­ways ad­mired.” Na­soko, too, is re­lent­less in his drive and knows full well that wear­ing the 7s shirt is no guar­an­tee. “You have to keep on striv­ing, keep on fight­ing. There are a lot of good play­ers in Fiji…it may be the first time you wear the shirt, but it might also be the last.” Next sea­son is no snap for Na­soko. He is com­mit­ted to train­ing four days a week as the 2018 Rugby World Cup in San Fran­cisco next July and up­com­ing Com­mon­wealth Games in April present some of the great­est op­por­tu­ni­ties for the young player. ‘It’s my aim to make the squad for the World Cup, but it’s also my big­gest chal­lenge. I’m up against some of the best play­ers from last year’s Olympic squad, and we’ve all come to fight for a place.”Against such tough com­pe­ti­tion, Na­soko feels the most pres­sure is to im­press his fam­ily. “I am here to rep­re­sent my fam­ily, es­pe­cially my grand­par­ents, be­cause they brought me up.” Af­ter his par­ents di­vorced, Na­soko and his two younger sis­ters were raised by their fa­ther’s par­ents. They were con­tin­u­ally sup­port­ive of his dream to

Na­soko re­lax­ing in Tuvu, Lautoka.

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