Fiji Time: 4:41 PM on Saturday 17 March

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Fiji Bati reunites Raiwalui family

Paulini Ratulailai
Monday, December 04, 2017

HENRY Raiwalui was emotional while attending the Fiji Bati thanksgiving service at the Centenary Methodist Church in Suva yesterday.

The farewell service was to thank the Vodafone Fiji Bati for their gallant effort in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Fiji was ousted from the semi-finals last week after losing to Australia which retained the trophy yesterday after beating England 6-0.

For Raiwalui, the service brought back childhood memories when he attended services with his grandparents.

Raiwalui, 28, said hearing the choir sing brought back memories of his grandparents. They were stalwarts of the church.

"It is good to be back home and everyone is so welcoming, especially for me as I grew up in this church," he said.

"I had so many memories such as my grandparents taking me to Sunday school every Sunday which we never missed. To remember all those days meant a lot to me.

"I was five or six years old when I always accompanied my grandparents to church and one of the things that I learned from them was never to miss church.

"The support from the congregation made us feel at ease even though we didn't make it to the final. The support from everyone in church, whether we won or lost, we were reminded that we're still part of them. For that, I am truly humble."

The Dravuwalu, Naceva, Kadavu man is available for the next world cup.

"It has been some crazy and intense weeks of playing and moving from one place to another. One thing I learned from the players was the bond and the brotherhood, especially the Fijian blood that runs in to our veins."

A relative, Ema Kanailagi, was overjoyed to see her grand-nephew after so many years.

"His grandfather Anare Raiwalui was one of the choir masters in this church and so was his great-grandfather Peni," she related.

"His grandmother, Bulou Vasiti Raiwalui, was my first cousin. Every Sunday we will always see them with this one Henry coming to church.

"When I saw his name I knew that he was my cousin's grandson and I just wish that they are alive too see their grandson become a Fiji rep."

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