Fijian 7s star Seremaia Tuwai is set to become the latest Olympic gold medal winner to quit the Sevens circuit and move into the 15-a side game.
The news comes following Tuwai’s 100th try helping Fiji win the Cape Town leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series to provide a fitting finale after four years in national colours following his stunning debut at the Gold Coast sevens in 2014.
Two years after helping Fiji to Olympic glory, the Fiji Sun says he is waiting for Fiji Rugby Union clearance to allow him to head to the USA where the new professional rugby competition is about to start its second year. Already making a living in the longer form of the sport are fellow Fijian sevens stars Semi Kunatani (UK), Savenaca Rawaca (France), Osea Kolinisau (USA), Viliame Mata (Scotland), Jasa Veremalua (USA), Josua Tuisova and Leone Nakarawa (France).
Besides becoming an Olympic gold medal winner the 29-year-old led his country to five sevens series titles during the 2017/18 season, including four in a row, plus a silver medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and fourth place at the World Cup in San Francisco.
The loss of Tuwai, known as Jerry, is the latest blow to hit the Fiji sevens squad but while it removes vital experience, the squad continues to produce exciting new talent. Tuwai’s decision comes shortly after Super Rugby chiefs knocked back the latest attempt to have a Pacific Islands team included in that competition to help stop the drain of players from the region. As a result, Tuwai will be just the latest Fijian player to opt for a professional contract that takes him away from Fiji where his first home was in a one-room shack with corrugated-iron walls.
Growing up, Tuwai used to play rugby with plastic bottles and bundled-up T-shirts on the streets of Newtown on the outskirts of Suva and his move to 15s will help his family’s financial future. Tuwai’s mother Seruwaia Vualiku told CNN previously: “I knew I wouldn’t worry about food, about clothes. And Jerry did that for us; for me, my husband and my children. It’s not me, it’s not my husband. It’s God. Because I know I didn’t dream that one day Jerry will be a superstar, a rugby player like this. It was all in God’s plan.
Tuwai was nominated as the Sevens Player of the Year in 2018 but lost out to American Perry Baker who retained his title and has helped the Eagles go into 2019 as the top ranked Sevens team. The current Sevens series will see the top four teams automatically qualify for the Olympic Games tournament in Japan in 2020.
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