Jeremy Davidson is tipping Dominiko Waqaniburotu for a special 2019 double – promotion to the Top 14 with Brive and quarter-final qualification for Fiji at the Japan World Cup.
The hugely respected Waqaniburotu, who took over the Fijian captaincy from Akapusi Qera for their November series, led his country to an historic Parisian win over France.
That was the biggest victory in the 32-year-old’s 43-cap Test career. However, that milestone hasn’t distracted from his mission of getting his club back in the French top flight following their relegation last May.
It’s an attitude which Davidson, the former Ireland international who has been in charge at Brive since the pre-season, greatly admires.
“He is a player who has an aura in the group,” said Davidson to local French media ahead of next week’s resumption of the Pro D2 following its Christmas/New Year break. Brive are in fourth place, seven points off leaders Nevers, and Waqaniburotu is key to their promotion plans even though he has started from the bench in four of his 10 club appearances this season.
“He does not let himself down. He is a tough guy, a leader of men. He embodies an authority, not by his words but by his actions. After the exceptional victory at the Stade de France, nothing has changed in his behaviour.
“Even if there are rotations since the beginning of the season and he has not been holder (of a Brive starting jersey) all the time, we really count on him for the future.
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“It’s a guaranteed value, a value that this season he wishes only two things – to get Brive back in the Top 14 and play a third World Cup with his brothers in Japan next September and reach the quarter-finals.”
Fiji will travel to the Far East with high hopes of success. Their deserved win over France in Paris moved them up to eighth position in the World Rugby rankings ahead of a 2019 pool campaign where they face Australia, Wales, Georgia and Uruguay.
Waqaniburotu, who has an RPI of 62, is now in his seventh season at Brive where he has the total respect of the dressing room.
“He does not speak much but when he speaks, he is listened to,” said Saïd Hireche, Waqaniburotu’s fellow back row at the club.
“He’s a very hard worker. On the ground you do not see him all the time but when you see him, he dominates.
“For me it’s an honour to play with him. He is someone who does not cheat on the field and you want to return the favour and do the same.”
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