Raiders search for another Nadruku

THE Canberra Raiders are keen to unearth more exciting talents in the country who could follow the footsteps of the great Noa Nadruku, a powerhouse winger from Namatakula, who played for the team back in the 1990s.

The Raiders set up two academies one each in Suva and Nadi, to give an opportunity to young players to upskill their performance by participating in programs similar to ones used for schoolboys in Australia.

Nadruku, a former Fiji 7s star, played 92 games for the Raiders from 1993-1997 and picked up the National Rugby League (NRL) Dally M Winger of the Year award in 1993.

Last month, the Raiders took Tiri Shaw from Marist Brothers High School and Ba Provincial Free Bird Institute’s Semi Valemei for a training camp.

Earlier this week, the Raiders signed up Valemei on a two-year contract. Raiders high performance recruitment manager Peter Mulholland was at Prince Charles Park in Nadi yesterday to witness the Fiji Secondary Schools Rugby League Vodafone Trophy quarter-finals.

“I’m here to watch the schoolboys championship and some of our academy boys who are in it,” Mulholland said.

“I’m just looking for other boys who could join the academies. The boys come together over a period of time to train at the academy. There are more players in the Eastern Division so we want to build the Western Division academy to have about 20 players in each academy.”

Mulholland said players wishing to be part of the academy had to meet certain criterions.

He said they provided the programs and gear giving the boys an opportunity to participate.

“We have school teachers who run the academy for us,” Mulholland said.

“The boys are selected as per criteria. It is on their behaviour at school, their footy ability and their academics as well, so it is fully balanced.

“Out of the academy we took two boys to Canberra in February and they stayed for a month to be assessed. One of them had to return to finish school and that is Tiri. Semi we have kept him and he has been tremendous. He played with the Nadi Aviators for a little bit and was in our program for the last 12 months.

“We would love unearth another Noa Nadruku and I know that Noa would love that as well.

“We give the opportunities to the boys but don’t make promises to them. We give them the opportunity to work on programs which is the same that the boys are working on in Australia.”

Mulholland would be back into the country during the Deans Trophy finals to scout for more talents.

“It is wonderful for the boys to be playing league and union, it’s just rugby,” he said.

“That’s the important part of it as the boys keep playing both but as long as they get a break at the end of the year.”

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