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Maciu Malo
Wednesday, April 02, 2014

FIJI Rugby has lost a fearless rugby warrior and one of the first Fijian players to feature in the President's Overseas XV, now referred to as World 15s, that defeated England 28-11 in 1971.

Commonly known as "do-or-die" by his fellow teammates, former national rep Jona Qoro Naresia passed away at his Narewa home in Nadi after a short illness last weekend.

From his humble beginnings back at the village, the rugged forward achieved the pinnacle of his rugby career by playing alongside some of the world's top players such as Colin Meads (NZ), Bryan Williams (NZ), Ian Kirkpatrick (NZ), Frik du Preez (SA), Greg Davis (Aust), Jo Maso (France) and Dawie de Villiers (SA).

In 2011, Naresia was visited by his World 15s skipper and All Blacks rugby legend Sir Brian Lochore who described the Nadi man as one of the best Fijian players he came across over the past five decades.

"Jo was a very tough prop and I really enjoyed playing with him because he had guts and heart for rugby," the former All Blacks skipper said.

"He is one of the few Fijian rugby players that I really admired playing with."

Naresia made his debut for Fiji in 1968 scoring 16 tries from 43 Test caps.

He was also part of the Nadi team that won the Farebrother trophy as a player and coach in the '60s.

Naresia also played a huge role in grooming his two brothers Peniame and Vuata who later followed his path in the national team in the '70s.

After assisting his two brothers, the former national prop also nurtured his only son Vuata Naresia to don the famous white shirt.

In an interview with Times Sport, the former national centre said the death of his dad was a huge loss to the family, Nadi and Fiji rugby.

"Dad is a great motivator and his records speak for itself," said Naresia Jr.

"Players and fans nicknamed him as 'do-or-die' because of his courage and guts. He was fearless on the rugby paddock and this was evident in his selection to the world team."

Naresia, 69, is survived by two daughters, son and 14 grandchildren. He will be laid to rest at his village on Friday.

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