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Atalifo's first Test try

Emoni Narawa
Sunday, June 29, 2014

TOWERING Suva front rower Leeroy Atalifo was over the moon, scoring a try on his debut game for the Vodafone Flying Fijians in yesterday's 108-6 victory over Cook Islands at Churchill Park.

The tight-head prop came off the bench and impressed.

He bulldozed his way to the try-line taking two Cook Islands defenders in the process to help Fiji qualify for the Rugby World Cup in England next year.

The 26-year-old was named on the bench against Samoa last week but he was calm and collected and patience paid off well yesterday.

"I was really happy today (yesterday)," the Oinafa villager from Rotuma said after the game.

"It's been a long sacrifice not only for myself but my family too. It's a big honour to represent the country in front here in Fiji.

"I did not play last week despite being named but I know the coach and management they know things better, it's still a long development for me and I do not mind if I never play for this tournament."

Atalifo, who featured well for the Fiji Warriors in the Pacific Rugby Cup, replaced his fellow Suva teammate Manasa Saulo.

"I was a bit nervous standing on the sideline before I came in because I know I got big shoes to fill but I'm happy that I ended up well after the match."

The Rotuma lad was picked ahead of the experienced Setefano Samoca for a place in the 30-member Flying Fijians for the June series.

Fiji head coach John McKee said Atalifo is a promising young player.

"He played really well and he still got a long way to go." McKee added Atalifo is one of the exciting young players who would be considered for the future.

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