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A star on the rise

Jo Kunaluvea
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

THE Waratahs' latest recruit, Taqele Naiyaravoro, heeded his uncle's advice and pursued his education overseas instead of following his dream of playing local rugby and finding employment in one of the hotels along the Coral Coast.

Ratu Aisea Waka Volavola, whose nephew Naiyaravoro is set to feature in the Super Rugby semi-final against Brumbies at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney this Saturday, said the 23-year-old's aim was to play club rugby in Nadroga and have a crack at the Stallion's jumper.

Naiyaravoro, who hails from Nacula, Yasawa, spent most of his younger days at his mother's village in Cuvu.

"He used to tell me that his dream is to play for the Nadroga team despite his father's wish for him to pursue further education in New Zealand.

"So I allowed him to follow his heart and he really enjoyed spending time with his friends in the village but after a few months I sat him down and told him that playing local rugby wouldn't help him in his future.

"He needed to go overseas and further his education first while sports should come second," said Ratu Aisea, who is Nadroga Rugby Union patron.

After spending a year in Auckland in 2012 where he was both studying and playing rugby league for the Auckland Warriors junior, a scout from the Wests Tigers whisked him across the Tasman Sea.

He contacted his uncle again earlier this year for his advice on whether to change codes since he was approached by the Waratahs officials.

"I encouraged him to change codes since rugby union offered more opportunities where they travel the world to play rugby and probably a chance to play for the Wallabies or our Flying Fijians, while rugby league was mostly played within Australia and I am satisfied and happy that he is now with the Waratahs," said Ratu Aisea, who played prop for RKS and Nadroga thirty years ago and also a former president of the Fiji Weightlifters Association.

He added his younger sister Asena Ratuvuki, Naiyaravoro's mother, jetted out of the country in the weekend to cheer on her son at the 43,000-seat Allianz Stadium.

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has been impressed with Naiyaravoro's performance so far, saying the 120kg and 195cm in height Fijian is a proven finisher and a hard-running winger.

He has scored one try in the four matches he has played for the Australian franchise.

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