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Sanday raises a profile

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Fiji student playing 1st XV rugby at St Joseph's Nudgee College, Brisbane, Kirwan Ulaisai Sanday, has featured on the International Rugby Board's (IRB) worldwide rugby TV show Total Rugby.

The program is screened in Australia twice in July on Fox Sports 1 and will be screened in more than 100 countries throughout the world including Fiji.

It featured rugby at Brisbane's Nudgee College which is regarded as one of Australia's leading rugby nurseries. Current and past Wallabies who have been at Nudgee include Rocky Elsom, Hugh McMenimen, and Mark Loan, the latter having also played a short stint for Nadroga alongside current FRU rugby selector, Dan Lobendahn while serving as a Dental intern at Sigatoka Hospital in the 1970's.

Sanday, who is a former Suva International School student, plays loose-head prop for the Nudgee 1st XV. It is currently undefeated in the Queensland Schools' GPS competition and has only Ipswich Grammar School to beat to achieve the grand slam. The last time Nudgee College went through the GPS competition undefeated was in 2002 when Rocky Elsom played Nbr 8 for the Nudgee 1st XV.

The IRB initiated the focus on Nudgee rugby after Rocky Elsom said in an interview in Total Rugby that his time at Nudgee had prepared him well for his career as a professional footballer.

The episode features a game between Nudgee and two-times defending GPS Champions, the Southport School on the Gold Coast, where current Wallaby captain, lock Nathan Sharpe's played his schoolboy rugby.

Sanday, a giant at 187 cm and weighing 108kg, has a solid rugby pedigree.

He hails from Burerua Village, Sawakasa, Tailevu where he played his first rugby as a child. His uncles who have distinguished themselves on the rugby playing field include John Sanday, Rupeni Caucaunibuca, Sikeli Tikoduadua, Simi Naiduki, Pio Timi, Uraia Vecenadavui and current Fiji National coach, Ilivasi Tabua.

Nudgee's reputation for producing quality rugby players is well-known. The last Fijian to play first XV rugby at Nudgee is giant winger and top try scorer this year in the Sydney competition, Nemani Nasiganiyavi of Namatakula, Nadroga who signed recently for the Waratahs for the coming 2009 Super 14 season.

Sanday played his age grade rugby in the backline initially for the Raluni brothers' Easts Rugby Club and later he joined Souths to play alongside his fellow Queensland schools under-16s reps, winger Chris Nasiganiyavi, younger brother of Nemani and son of former Fiji and Queensland Reds winger, Isei Nasiganiyavi; and Solomone Rasolea Junior whose dad hails from Naitasiri but played inside-centre for Nadi and Fiji before being picked up by scouts from Brisbane.

Sanday caught the eye of Queensland selectors last year while playing Number 8 for Souths and for the Nudgee U-16As but was picked because of this size as a loose-head prop for the Queensland U-16s and advised by Queensland selectors to play in the front row if he wanted to make the big time in rugby. The last Queensland U-16 schoolboy Number 8 thrust into the front row by the same selectors was Brendon Cannon, former Wallaby and Western Force hooker.

Chris Nasiganiyavi and Rosolea Junior, and their fellow Queensland U-16 teammate, Ipswich Grammar's Teti Tela, who also hails from Sawakasa, Tailevu were this year again selected into the Queensland schoolboys team that played in the Australian state championships in Canberra recently.

Sanday missed out on the Queensland trials because of a shoulder injury that kept him out of rugby in the early part of the season. However, he returned to help his team to down the more fancied Southport College 25 points to 18 parts of which are captured in the Total Rugby program that includes interviews with players, former Nudgee greats and the coach.

Known for his big hits and bullocking runs Sanday has been offered a scholarship to play colts rugby next year for the University Club, Brisbane.

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