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Rugby hero laid to rest

Maciu Malo
Friday, April 04, 2014

FORMER national rugby rep Vuata Naresia Sr yesterday paid tribute to his rugby hero and elder brother, Jona Naresia Qoro, who was laid to rest at Narewa Village in Nadi yesterday.

Naresia, an Australian citizen who is in the county to farewell his brother, was a member of the Fiji 7s team that won the first ever Hong Kong 7s title in 1977 before scoring a try for the Flying Fijians in their historic win against the British Lions the same year.

The former Nadi and national flanker said his brother had left behind a legacy that would always be part of Fiji rugby and he had made their family and village proud.

Naresia said the mark made by his brother in the rugby battlefield inspired his own career.

He said Nadi and Fiji rugby had lost a rugby star who always gave his best for the country.

"My brother was one of the few feared Fijian rugby players to ever play the game," he said.

"His guidance and encouragement enabled me to follow his footsteps into the Fiji team.

"His death is a huge loss to the rugby family but I believe his legacy will live on for the future rugby players to learn from."

Former national rep and former prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka also paid tribute to the great player on behalf of the Fiji Rugby Union.

Rabuka said he was still a student at Queen Victoria School when he first played against the late Jona Qoro.

"I regretted playing against him during the national trials, he was a tough opponent and he had the heart for rugby," Rabuka said in his eulogy.

"But he comforted me after the trials and inspired me not to give up.

"I was fortunate to play alongside him during our tour of Canada, USA and England.

"He always encouraged us to give our best and make Fiji proud."

Hundreds of people, including former rugby reps, friends and relatives gathered at Narewa Village to farewell the rugby star.

Known by his teammates as "Do-or-Die", the rugby hero made his debut for Fiji in 1968 and scored 16 tries from 43 Test caps.

His biggest break in rugby was when he was selected to play for the President's Overseas XV, now referred to as World 15s that defeated England 28-11 in 1971.

He played with the rugby legends 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) and All Blacks rugby legend Sir Brian Lochore.

His two brothers Vuata and Peniame, also played for Fiji in the 70s before Qoro's only son Vuata Naresia continued the family tradition of representing the Flying Fijians.

Qoro, 69, is survived by two daughters, a son and 14 grandchildren.





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