How Picking Coconuts and Diving for Fish Prepared Sau for Greatness
HOW PICKING COCONUTS AND DIVING FOR FISH PREPARED SAU FOR
Who would have thought that childhood chores like picking coconuts and diving in the sea off Marou, Naviti in Yasawa would one day place someone among the best in rugby’s abbreviate code? It rings true for Fiji’s latest sevens sensation and HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2018 Rookie of the Year, Eroni Sau. In an exclusive interview during a reception hosted by French Ambassador Sujiro Seam, at his Ratu Sukuna Road residence, Sau reveled the secret behind the strength, speed and hard-hitting tackles that may have earned him the nickname ‘Sledgehammer’. He vividly remembers playing innocent games with village boys, picking coconuts, going to the plantation and spending hours at sea, swimming and diving for fish to help put food on the table. Those were his frequent physical activities and he believes they helped develop his muscles and upper body strength. “I didn’t go to the gym that much to do weightlifting, but I think it was the upbringing back in the village, lifting sacks of coconuts and swimming that helped me,” Sau said. “I think swimming and diving for hours looking for fish built my strong arms and shoulders. Also playing with friends in the village, trying to out-muscle each other to find out who was the strongest helped me physically and mentally.” Winning the title of Rookie of the Year was not a total surprise for Sau. He said while he did not want his nomination to distract him from his rugby he made sure he played his best until the very last game. “Winning the Rookie title was a blessing and for that I would like to thank my team mates and everyone at home for their support.” His rise did not come about without its share of challenges. He tried all options available to him, including playing15s and rugby league until finally getting his break last year. Sau attended Yasawa High School before moving to Lautoka to finish his secondary education at Ba Provincial Freebird Institute, where he was introduced to rugby league. He joined Saru Dragons but left league in 2015 to aggressively find a spot in the national sevens team. He was selected by national sevens coach Gareth Baber in 2017 before the start of the 2017/2018 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and made his debut for Fiji at the 2017 Dubai Sevens. “I put in a lot of sacrifice that people don’t see, especially doing my own extra training early in the morning and trying to stay fit. “I had to push myself personally, knowing I would make it one day and wear the white jersey and it finally came true.” Looking back at his debut year, he said he gained a lot when his dream came true last season. “It was a great season. We lost some and won some tournaments and although we didn’t win the series we thank our families for always being there for us. “For me personally, it was a good experience, especially playing with boys who won at the Rio Olympics and some well known overseas players from like Semi (Radradra) and Josh (Josua Tuisova). I look forward to the task ahead.” He dedicated his award to all those who supported his rugby. “I dedicate my win to my family for always being there for me, especially my wife Luisa, kids and relatives. I also thanks the FRU, my team mates and also the Fiji Police Force for giving me job opportunity, shelter and for supporting me all the way.” Sau said his focus in the next few weeks was training hard for the upcoming Rugby World Cup Sevens to be played 20-22 July, San Francisco, California.
Eroni Sau relaxes at the French Ambassador’s official residence, Rt Sukuna Road, Suva