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'Brutally honest': Nadolo on World Cup 2023 and quitting Leicester

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Nemani Nadolo has finally shed light on why he has quit the title-winning Leicester with less than a year to go before potentially representing Fiji at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France. It was early August when the 34-year-old was confirmed as a new Waratahs signing for the upcoming Super Rugby Pacific season and he has now explained the reason behind his switch nine weeks later.

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“I’ll be brutally honest with you, it was moving home to Australia,” said Nadolo about leaving Leicester, a decision he revealed was originally taken with Tigers boss Steve Borthwick in the latter stages of the 2021/22 season without having a club lined up to go to. That uncertainty even left him contemplating retirement before the Waratahs came in with their one-year offer.

“I went to Steve and told him my situation. It was my family first and in a normal world you would have something lined up to go and I didn’t have a club. I had a few conversations with my wife about potentially maybe retiring, so it wasn’t until five months down the track that I was fortunate enough to sign for the club in Australia.

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RUGBYPASS INSIDERS | NADOLO – A RugbyPass Originals Documentary
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RUGBYPASS INSIDERS | NADOLO – A RugbyPass Originals Documentary

“You can imagine at the time we were doing really well at Leicester and on our way to potentially playing in a semi-final (last June). It was nerve-wracking times and I was weighing up either retirement or finding something in Australia. There were opportunities to go to other countries but I’d rather just stay at Leicester if I was going to do that. There was no point in me going to another country.

“The whole purpose of moving back to Australia was for my wife and to be close to my family. It was daunting then (the uncertainty). I look back on it and there was a stretch for about five months where I was looking at retiring because there were no clubs. We all know with the current situations going on, clubs are hard to come by.

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“I was very, very lucky that the Tahs took me in. I’m from Brisbane so my wife and son will be moving back home to Brisbane. I’ll be living in Sydney and trying to commute back and forth. That was the first and foremost reason. People think I left because of another club. No, it was to get home and I’m lucky, I’m counting the stars that I managed to get a club.”

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The seasoned Nadolo has played three times in recent years for Fiji while at Leicester since ending his Test-level retirement. He had gone from June 2018 to December 2020 without earning a cap and has since played twice against the All Blacks in July 2021. He’s unsure, though, whether he will be up for selection for France 2023 where the Fijians have been drawn in a pool that includes Wales, Australia and Georgia.

“I don’t know, I’m taking it a month at a time. There are a lot of things happening and look, Fiji are in a great place in terms of outside backs and we produce some of the best wingers in the world. Look, perfect world I’d love to go but there are a lot of hurdles to go before I get there.

“I used to always worry about that sort of stuff when I was younger, would I make it there, would I make it this, but now I have changed my perspective on life. I’m just enjoying this time here (in Leicester) and then I’ll see whatever comes in Australia.

“I haven’t spoken to Vern (Cotter, the Fiji coach) for a while now which is probably a good thing I would like to think. No news is good news, particularly at this stage of my career. If I just keep doing what I am doing who knows? You never say never and you just try and keep humble about it.”

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