Leicester winger Nemani Nadolo has hailed next year’s arrival of Fijian Drua into Super Rugby but the 33-year-old believes he is too old to head to the island and play a part in the franchise’s debut season mixing it with the best teams that New Zealand and Australia have to offer.
Having moved from France to England in 2020, Nadolo ended his Test level retirement when playing for the Fiji national team in their December Nations Cup win over Georgia at Murrayfield. That was his first appearance at that level for two-and-a-half years and he went on to score a try hat-trick.
However, while he is an enthusiastic supporter of club side Drua gaining recent inclusion in next year’s revised Super Rugby structure, Nadolo doesn’t feel it would be right if he sought to play in a tournament he last featured in with the Crusaders in 2016.
“No,” he said when asked if he was a potential recruit for the Fijian Super Rugby franchise. “I have thought about it but for me, that’s not my time or place. It’s time for those young guys to make their mark. I don’t want to be that guy that is taking the spot of a young kid from the village who potentially could go on and do great things. After this [Leicester], I will be one of those spectators on the sideline.
“Super Rugby, they play really quick over there,” he added. “I’m not saying it’s not quick here but I have done my time in the Super Rugby arena and I want to finish well here in the Premiership.”
This is a great day for rugby as a whole!!. Knowing the next generation of talent coming from the islands don’t have to look overseas “1st”to play professional rugby. Congratulations and thank you to all involved. #Vinaka #malopAupito #faafetai ?? ?? ?? ?? pic.twitter.com/2GJlDqsgrj
— nemzy (@nemani_nadolo) April 14, 2021
Nadolo, who penned an extension to his Leicester contract on March 8 for the 2021/22 season in England, doesn’t believe the new Super Rugby Drua team will automatically stop the frequent flow of talent from Fiji. Until recent weeks, the dream for youngsters on the island had only been to get contracted abroad or pick up a school scholarship.
However, the Drua will now in time become an inspiration for local talent to aspire to represent. “I don’t think it is going to stop the influx of players,” he admitted. “Fiji, our biggest export is rugby players so we are always going to have guys come overseas. It’s a no-brainer but this is going to give guys a lot to look forward to.
“A lot of the kids there grow up wanting to play overseas. Their first thing is ‘I want to go play in France’ or ‘I want to go play in England, I want to get a schools scholarship’. With the Drua being there they have got an opportunity, they have something to look forward to.
“We have needed a professional team on the island and it is going to be great for them. These young kids coming through, there is so much raw talent that gets untapped. Fiji rugby are working really hard to make sure they can keep their best players on the island. It will be interesting to see who comes back, who goes back. They are going to have to mix it with the local guys there.
“It’s something that we have been crying out for and we have finally got the opportunity,” he continued. “It’s going to be great for the local guys on the island, it gives them an opportunity to play professionally on the island rather than having to come to this side of the world or New Zealand or Australia.
“It’s going to benefit the national side three, four years down the track. I’m pretty pumped about it and they will hopefully do well. I look at it as the Jaguares of Argentina. Japan as well, they had the Sunwolves. Their national teams benefitted massively and you can see that in the World Cups and all those big games.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 8, 2021
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