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Nemani Nadolo explains World Cup u-turn: 'I guess the fire has been relit'

By Chris Jones
Nemani Nadolo /PA

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Nemani Nadolo, the powerhouse Leicester wing, believes the arrival of his son Ethan has “relit the fire” and is targeting another World Cup challenge with Fiji in France in 2023 despite the problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Nadolo admits playing international rugby with the quarantine restrictions imposed by the pandemic has been tough to deal with but is committed to helping Fiji in the Autumn tests with Spain on November 6, Wales on November 14 in Cardiff, and Georgia on November 20 even if that means yet more time confined to a hotel room.

Fiji head coach Vern Cotter, who worked with the 20 stone plus wing at Montpellier and convinced Nadolo to come out of international retirement, will base his squad for the tour on the large contingent of European-based players from the island nation. The situation is complicated by the Fijian Drua preparing to take part in Super Rugby and those players will not be included in the tour party.

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That puts more pressure on players like Nadolo to ensure Fiji continue to prepare for another World Cup challenge and the 33-year-old, said: “I have a young son who is a year and half old and the quarantine has been tough. We have done (with Fiji) the equivalent of two months quarantine on international duty and how do you get up for it? There are some days you just want to pack it in and go home but my motivation is my family and knowing I am here for a reason and be strong.

“I had this conversation with my wife the other day and once my son was born a lot changed and the drive and motivation is higher and I feel like I want to give more and the culture we are building at Leicester makes you want to come into training. I guess the fire has been relit and these are exciting times.

“Coming back to the Fiji team I made the decision to try and go all the way to 2023 but in my position, there is no shortage of wings in Fiji. I am fully committed and if my body holds up and I play good rugby I don’t see why not.

“It is the new normal to do the quarantine and the guys who get picked in the Autumn, that is one of the things they are going to have to think about beforehand because you are going to be away from your family for a long time. I have heard stories of guys who have missed the birth of their child and have been on tours where players have lost parents when they have been in lockdown. It is tough and it is a lot to take in and in the old days it was great to go to nice hotels but they can now become jails.

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Nadolo <a href=
Gloucester Rugby v Leicester Tigers – Gallagher Premiership Rugby” width=”1024″ height=”563″ /> Nemani Nadolo (Photo by Bob Bradford – CameraSport via Getty Images)

“In the Fiji quad, when we do face trials we are all pretty close and there is a sense of gratefulness to be able to represent your country. Logistically, it will be easier for the guys over here on the European tour but it only takes one positive case and you are locked in. Some players will have serious things to think about before coming on the tour.”

Nadolo, who arrived at Mattioli Woods Welford road in 2020, has helped Leicester win their opening four Premiership games of the season for the first time in 20 years and they go into next weekend’s game with Worcester at the top of the table. He added: “The guys here at Leicester have got me on a good diet and I suppose as you get older to be able to keep up with the young guys coming through is my mindset. I have never been the quickest or fittest but I do know that if I use my full strength I can contribute to the side. At this stage of my career there is a checklist to go through and when I have nailed that the game and everything else doesn’t become as intense.”

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