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The evergreen man from Serea shows no sign of slowing down

Kameli Rakoko
Friday, September 05, 2014

FIVE YEARS after wearing the Fiji jersey the evergreen Nasoni Rokobiau is back in the national sevens squad preparing for next month's HSBC Series opener in Gold Coast.

At the age of 34 and turning 35 in November Roko has showed no signs of slowing down or quitting from rugby.

Roko was a member of the 2005 World Cup Sevens team that won the Melrose Cup in Hong Kong and four of his teammates are still playing competitive rugby overseas. They are Sireli Bobo, Jone Daunivucu and William Ryder in France with Marika Vunibaka playing in Australia.

He played most of his rugby in the Fiji jersey in sevens but toured with the full fifteens team to Ireland in 2009 and played in the Test in Dublin.

He still has the same explosive speed and acceleration to run around the defence and slip through gaps as he had when he first donned the Fiji team jersey in the Singapore Sevens in 2002 and went on to play in the sevens series until 2008 in Edinburgh in the Scotland Sevens.

Last Saturday he was the main driving force behind Naitasiri's gallant HFC Bank Farebrother-Sullivan challenge close 20-25 loss to Nadroga after the same side had just been wiped out 50-7 the week before.

He was instrumental in Naitasiri's two tries. He ran to join the forwards in their surge for the tryline resulting in a try.

Then in the second half he made a spectacular ball recovery from his feet after a bad pass before weaving his way through to send inside centre Viliame Masiwawa for a try in the dying moments of play.

Roko is also known for his big left boot and he made a number of ground gaining kicks to the opposition territory throughout the game.

Roko featured in most, if not all, of Naitasiri's Skipper Cup matches this year and his performance had been consistent week in and week out.

His selection back into the national sevens side was no surprise to many and playing once again in the Fiji jersey will be an amazing feat few rugby players have ever achieved.

He is a disciplined player who looks after himself and is deeply religious and soft-spoken.

A couple of years ago I attended a Naitasiri training at Nasinu and the majority of the players had arrived earlier and preparing for training as they noisily chattered away under the trees.

But there was a sudden hush as Roko got off from his car, went past the players, sat down and begun getting into his boots. His own teammates were in awe of him and respected his no-nonsense approach.

Here is his playing record taken from the Fiji Rugby Union website.

Roko made his international debut at the Singapore 7s in April 2002 and is currently Fiji's top try scorer on the IRB circuit with 101 tries.

A natural ball-player and gifted athlete, he helped Fiji to the South Africa 7s title in December 2002 with two great tries against New Zealand in the final.

He played two seasons for Hawke's Bay in New Zealand's NPC, and more recently has had club commitments in Japan.

He adds speed out wide. He scored what would have been the winning try against Samoa in the 2008 London 7s final which was later disallowed by Ireland referee David Kearne after an alleged infringement by Setefano Cakau.

Fiji 7s appearances:

2002 - Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, George

2003 - Brisbane, Wellington, Hong Kong, Cardiff, London, Suva (SPG), Dubai, George

2004 - Wellington, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Singapore

2005 - Wellington, Los Angeles, Hong Kong (RWC), Singapore

2006 - Paris, London

2007 - Wellington, San Diego, Hong Kong, Adelaide, London, Edinburgh

2008 - Hong Kong, Adelaide, London, Edinburgh

IRB 7s World Series stats:

Debut: Singapore 2002

2007-08 Season: 4 tournaments, 4 tries, 7 goals, 34 points

Total all-time: 30 tournaments, 101 tries, 96 goals, 697 points

Most points in a match: 23 (3 tries, 4 conversion vs Georgia at Cardiff 7s 2003)

Most points in a tournament: 65 (London 2003)

Most points in a season: 321 (19 tries,16 goals in 2002-03)

Average points per tournament: 23.23

The above statistics were stored and archived.

But now that the Serea man is back he will have another shot at lifting that try scoring feat and stats to another unbeatable level.

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