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The one time in Nemani Nadolo's career he felt 'like a little kid'

By Ned Lester
Nemani Nadolo looks to score for the Crusaders. Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

One of Rugby’s true giants, Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo has told the story of the day he felt like a little kid by All Black legend Richie McCaw.


The 137kg back rarely has cause to feel intimidated but said his first day on-site with the Crusaders in 2014 was memorable for a number of reasons.

Having signed for the Junior Warratahs team in 2008, Nadolo spent the next two years excelling at every level he played at, including his time in the Australian Under 20 team but ultimately didn’t get an opportunity at Super Rugby level with the New South Wales side.

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Nadolo took his opportunities in Europe and Japan before signing in New Zealand in late 2013.

“I went to New Zealand and was fortunate enough to play for the Crusaders,” Nadolo recalled for World Rugby. “Probably the only time in my career where I’ve been really anxious about going into a new club. It’s one thing watching them on TV, I know they’re only human beings but the aura they possess, it’s crazy.

“I remember walking in to do my medicals that morning, I was kind of like a little kid, Richie McCaw walked in, I got up and shook his hand, I still remember it to this day and he goes to me, and I said ‘G’day I’m Nemani’, I actually said my full name, usually I just get them to call me Nims and he was like ‘you here to have some fun?’ And I was like ‘yeah’ and he goes ‘alright I’ll see you soon’ and that was it”.

Reflecting on his time with the Waratahs, Nadolo admitted to feeling as though he didn’t take his opportunities at the club but was also given some feedback about the team’s perception of him that he still carries today.


“You know growing up I was obviously at the Waratahs and was not good enough to play Super Rugby I guess, at the time I was told the perception they had about me was that I was not going to be quick enough or have what it takes to make it at that level so that kind of stuck with me when I ventured on around the world playing rugby.”

Rumoured to have had a sub-11-second 100m sprint time, Nadolo’s professional career has well and truly proved those perceptions wrong.

Now, the 34-year-old is back in Super Rugby and will finally suit up for the Waratahs in 2023, no doubt hoping to feature in round 2’s “Super Round” where the Waratahs will face the Fijian Drua at AAMI Park in Melbourne.



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