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Rayawa: Tasere was the coolest rugby player

Jo Kunaluvea
Thursday, January 09, 2014

FORMER Nadroga and Fiji rugby lock forward Joe Green Rayawa has described the late Ratu Isikeli Tasere as the coolest player in the invincible Nadroga team of the 1970s.

Rayawa said during Nadroga's nine-year Farebrother championship reign, the teams that challenged Nadroga for Fiji rugby's most prized possession usually applied dirty tactics to frustrate the Nadroga players.

"Naturally, we would retaliate but not Tasere, he was the coolest rugby player I have played with," Rayawa said.

"I've witnessed players from opposing teams play foul against him but I never once saw him retaliate.

"When a Nadroga player made a mistake in a crucial match, he would never ever growl or hurl a rude remark at the player. Instead, he would be encouraging.

"He was older than most of us but when a younger player was tasked with leading us at training, Tasere always listened and did what was expected of everyone."

Rayawa recalled the Nadroga rugby team's tour of Samoa in 1975, the first game of which was marred by a brawl.

"To play Samoa in those days on their home ground required more than fitness because they believed rugby without a fist-fight was not rugby.

"There was a scuffle going on and Peceli Kina, who never drank alcohol and was a deep devoted Christian during his playing days, started to engage a big Samoan prop in a fight while I took another big falla.

"But Tasere, always a cool player, never took part and he sort of walked away from trouble. That is the Tui Madudu — always cool-headed."

Rayawa said Tasere really showed he had chiefly blood and that was best displayed on the rugby field where he led by example.

"For those of us who played for Nadroga in the 70s, most have passed away — the only survivors are Ravuama Latilevu, Ilisoni Taoba, Wajile Tuinagiagia, Aminiasi Naituyaga, Dan Lobendahn, Alivereti Gonewai, Eveni Tuituba, Savenaca Rakuro and myself," said the rugby man nicknamed Green.

Ratu Isikeli Tasere will be buried at 11am today at his village in Nadroga.