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'Super' Isi

Maciu Malo
Friday, December 29, 2017

FIJIAN rugby looseman Isi Naisarani says the Australian Super Rugby best player award inspires him to continue working hard and to achieve his ultimate rugby dream of donning the famous gold and green Wallabies rugby shirt.

"My dream is to play for the Wallabies and I will keep on working hard since I am eligible to play for Australia in 2019," Naisarani said.

Naisarani created history — becoming the first player and first Fijian to win the best player award in his first season as a professional player.

The Naqali native of Naitasiri has engraved his name alongside Wallabies legends such as former captain George Gregan, flanker David Pocock, Christian Lelai'ifano to name a few as the RUPA Medal of Excellence winners.

In an interview with this newspaper yesterday, the former student of Ratu Kadavulevu School in Tailevu said he was humbled to receive the top award.

The Western Force number eight thanked the Almighty God for giving him the talent and to be chosen the best out of the many world-class players in Australia.

"I am thankful to be the first person in history to win the award in my first season of Super Rugby," he said.

"I look back and reflect on the humble beginning and the struggles I endured back home in Fiji and to get here — it's so rewarding.

"I thank God and my family for this. I thank my parents who have been supporting me through prayers to become a successful and better rugby player."

He said he would start his pre-season training with the Brumbies in two weeks' time knowing he has another huge season next year.

Naisarani, who has signed with the Brumbies next season, edged out other nominees which included his fellow countryman Henry Speight to win the top award.

Meanwhile, Fijian flyer Marika Koroibete was named the Wallabies Newcomer of the Year.

RUPA Awards

* Medal of Excellence: Isi Naisarani

* Newcomer of the Year: Marika Koroibete

* People's Choice Australian Player of the Year: Charlotte Caslick

* Academic Award: James Dargaville

* Community Service Award: Robbie Abel and Matt Sandell

* NRC Players' Player of the Year: Tom Cusack

* Men's Sevens Players' Player of the Year: James Stannard

* Women's Sevens Players' Player of the Year: Chloe Dalton OAM

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