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Fiji Time: 9:49 PM on Monday 21 April

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Teammates recall good old days with Ratu

Jo Kunaluvea
Friday, January 10, 2014

Eveni Tuituba, one of the surviving members of the Nadroga rugby team in the 70s, said the late Ratu Isikeli Tasere was a disciplined rugby player during his playing days.

"I was the youngest member of the Nadroga team in those days but he taught me a lot," said the former Fiji rugby flanker.

The 63-year-old Sigatoka farmer said the late Tasere and Rupeni Qaraniqio were the two types of players who would never retaliate despite the challenge and pressure normally associated with rugby in the forwards.

"You can stamp them on the head but not a single word be uttered," he said

But he vividly remembered one incident during the trial for the Fiji team to tour NZ in 1974.

"It was the only occasion I saw him lost his cool.

"Most of the Nadroga players were in one team while players from other provinces dominated the opposition and the opposing no. 10 was dictating play.

"Tasere, Seru Naitau and I instructed our halfback Isimeli Batibasaga to kick a little up and under above that guy and Batibasaga was spot on so I hit him shoulder high, Naitau came second with a spear tackle and Tasere stamped his back with his spiked boot.

"The referee, Kiwi, blew the whistle and told the three of us our play was similar to a "bren gun machine gun" and we got our marching orders while that poor first five was stretched off.

"When the team was announced Tasere was chosen while the two of us missed out and I believe it was that incident that caught the selectors' attention.'

Another former rugby prop Samisoni Navatu said he learned a lot from Tasere.

"When I joined Nadroga he was in his final years in rugby and what he taught me helped me to wear the Fiji rugby jersey," said Navatu.

Amenatave Ratu of Vunavutu Village and Kele Naruma both praised the late Nayawa chief for his high ethics in rugby.

"The Sigatoka sand dunes was our training ground

"When Tasere was in the Fiji team, we would fill in the vacuum to play in the local competition.

"He was the kind of front rower the rest of the forwards could rely on, never back off regardless of who Nadroga faced," said Ratu.