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It's not about the money, it's the passion behind it

Elenoa Baselala
Saturday, November 11, 2017

PERSEVERANCE and persistence are two words that can best describe Vodafone Fiji Bati half back Henry Raiwalui.

On the 12th year of his attempt to represent Fiji in the Rugby League World Cup, his name is finally ticked.

Raiwalui was born in Australia but was raised in Fiji until he was eight years old when his father, Jovilisi moved back to Australia to study and work.

"I loved growing up in Fiji and it definitely set the foundation for me because I was being raised by my grandmother," Raiwalui said.

"It was always tough love, I am always grateful for what I was given and when I went overseas it was sort of locked in my head.

"So, obviously whatever opportunities came by, I grabbed it with both hands."

Raiwalui, who hails from Dravuwalu Village, Kadavu and a vasu of Natumua, Kadavu attended Annesley Infant School and Suva Methodist Primary School before he moved to Australia.

Now 28 years old, Raiwalui attended the trials for the 2008 and 2013 RLWC but was not selected.

Why didn't he give up?

"It's just the passion because I have already had a taste of what it's like to wear this jersey. It's not about the money, it's about the passion behind it and your country," Raiwalui said.

"And for myself … obviously growing up here, I'd never thought that I would get even just a chance to represent Fiji at all.

"But to represent it in something such as the world cup, stage, it's something I have always wanted to do.

"This was going to be my last chance to try and I was giving my all, giving everything possible leading up to this moment."

Disappointed that he was not selected, Raiwalui did not give up though returning to Australia to "reassess what worked and what didn't" resulting in a decision to have a better diet, investing lesser time on parties and making sacrifices.

"I prepared my body as best as I could ... and it's better than the last campaign, I think it sort of pushed me to that limit."

Last year, Raiwalui suffered a knee injury, a time he described as a "down phase" in his life.

But it was his dad and partner of two years that spurred him on.

"My dad was constantly on my back, telling me that no matter what he was always proud of me and at the same time pushing me to be the best I can be.

"I am thankful for the people that surrounded me during that time- my dad, partner, friends and families."

Raiwalui has no regrets in life saying if he changed anything in his past, he wouldn't be the person he is today.

"Now, that I am here there's nothing else for me to pursue but to be on that run on team. I will keep working for it all the way."

Raiwalui was in the run on team against USA and Wales.

His selection to the RLWC has also sparked his career, which looked like it was ending last year.

It has given him another momentum.

And what would be the perfect fairytale ending to his RLWC journey this year?

"Of course, it is to win that world cup," he quipped.

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