'It just sucks watching it on TV': Nemani Nadolo on hotel quarantine life with Fiji in France
Veteran winger Nemani Nadolo has provided a fascinating insight into quarantine life with the Fiji squad in France where 29 players and staff tested positive for Covid-19, resulting in the cancellation of three of their Autumn Nations Cup matches.
Despite having no option but to see France, Italy and Scotland all awarded 28-0 bonus-point group wins, Nadolo and co are still clinging to the hope that they will eventually have a sufficient clean bill of health and will be able to participate in a December 5 play-off match, most likely against Georgia at Murrayfield.
New Leicester signing Nadolo had come out of Test rugby retirement to link up with the Fiji squad that is now under Vern Cotter, his former Montpellier coach. The 32-year-old, who was last capped in June 2018, had been included in the XV that was to start against France in Vannes.
However, that November 15 fixture was cancelled and was quickly followed by the call-off of last weekend’s game with Italy in Ancona and next weekend’s match away to Scotland.
It has left Nadolo, who was one of the few in the squad not to test positive for the virus, kicking his heels in frustration, confined on his own to his bedroom and hoping that the outlook will clear and allow Fiji return to the training ground next week.
— nemzy (@nemani_nadolo) November 21, 2020
Appearing on the latest episode of The Rugby Pod from his hotel room in France, Nadolo said: “We are in high spirits but it’s tough. Personally, being locked up in a room takes its toll but we’re all positive. We have got WhatsApp groups helping each other out, having laughs and whatnot on there so we’re doing alright now.
“We get our own rooms. That was part of it. Everyone in this competition has their own room… but as everyone has read and heard we have contracted it [Covid-19]. We just isolate, stay in our room and follow the rules over here which is ten days isolation.
“The food and everything else comes to you. You have got to clean your room as well so they bring a bag full of new bedsheets. You’re on your own really. It’s an experience.”
The mass outbreak of the virus in the Fijian ranks was a massive blow for the Autumn Nations Cup as fans around the rugby world were hugely looking forward to what the Pacific Islanders would bring to the tournament.
Nadolo explained that the squad had been flying in training and were excited themselves about what they could potentially achieve. “Leading into it we were all excited about the new squad. There is a lot of young guys come in and then we have got a good balance of the old guys. I myself came back in and I’m one of the oldest guys in the team.
“The coaching staff, the way they have conducted themselves and the way they have gone about things, it’s completely different to my ten years being involved with the squad before and that is what excites us.
“We were actually preparing really well leading up to France and we had a sense of belief. The backline we were going to put out was every backs coach’s dream. The excitement level was there.
“We actually came into this competition with a genuine chance, a belief that we could do really well. It just sucks watching it on TV, seeing these teams play and we’re cooped up in our rooms. What Vern and his coaching staff have brought in it’s exciting and it’s new.
“They are giving us more licence to be Fijian rugby players, play with a bit of structure but not too much which is good for us. I guess it’s just all talk now. It’s sad to see,” he said, adding that fingers are firmly crossed they will get to play their play-off and at least have one match.
“From what we have been told we’re still going ahead until something else comes up. From what we know we are still involved right until the end. There is a light there… if it was called off I guess we would be home already. At this stage we know we still have a game so hopefully the stars align and we can get on the pitch and show our worth.”
"The back row, Underhill and Curry, what did they make, 7,400 tackles or something between them? It's just madness"
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 24, 2020
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