Rugby pals – How friendship helps mould three young men

Fiji U16 players (L-R) Benjamin Baselala Marc-Andre, Rusiate Lepaiono and Asivorosi Traill in Nabua, Suva yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

FRIENDSHIP on the field is taking a group of friends to a foreign land.

Fiji under-16 rugby players Asivorosi Traill, Benjamin Marc-Andre and Rusiate Lepaiono are part of the national U16 squad for the Australian Junior Rugby Championship at the end of the month.

The three young gentlemen’s passion for rugby has taken a new twist despite playing rugby for the first time in their adopted schools.

Lepaiono, who comes from Kia, Macuata on Vanua Levu, is a student of Queen Victoria School in Tailevu.

He joined QVS this year from Labasa College. He wanted academic success, and to make his name in rugby.

With Term Three being the most important, Lepaiono is one foot close to scoring his dream after the trio were named in the Fiji U16 squad which was announced on Saturday.

Their selection came as a joy, after months of training to the trio, and their families.

“In Labasa, I didn’t play any sport, but I craved to play rugby,” Lepaiono said.

“I made the right choice in switching school and my dream of becoming a professional rugby player has just begun.”

For the trio, their frienship is not longer limited to certain boundaries.

Their selection into the national squad is a step into a greater rugby horizon where work, money and fame are flashy.

Traill and Marc-Andre are also new boys on the rugby paddock.

It is their first year in schools rugby competition and they had turned heads. They attend Suva Grammar School this year after switching from Suva Muslim College.

They brought along some soccer skills that had paid off while chasing rugby success.

At SMC, Traill played goalkeeper while Marc-Andre was a fullback and is a good kicker. Both have a rugby dream.

To succeed. Solotavui, Kadavu lad, Marc-Andre is a loose-head prop.

“I moved to Suva Grammar for the sake of rugby and I guess hard work and dedication towards training has paid off,” he said.

“It was tough, especially in a new school, new atmosphere but having your best friend beside you, everything became normal,” he said.

That friendship knew no boundary.

They now live in Marc-Andre’s home after Traill’s father died before the the semi-finals of this year’s Powerade Super Deans Rugby Championship.

Traill wants to fulfil his father’s wish.

“I have to fulfil my father’s last words to me to do my best and play hard to represent Fiji,” Traill said.

“Nothing is hard when your heart is willing says the Levuka lad.”

The trio were in Suva yesterday celebrating their selection into the squad and planning their next move in ensuring that they win when making their debut for their country in the sport they love – rugby.

The squad marches into camp tomorrow in Suva.

Fiji U16 squad: Loose Head Prop – Semi Qica, Benjamin Marc-Andre. Hooker – Easi Tawake, Jeremiah Saumaka. Tight Head Prop – Jeremaiah Latianara, Asivorosi Tuisasake. Left Lock – Joji Vuli, Sean Algar. Right Lock – Daniel Fereti, Jeneiro Wakeham. Blindside Flanker – Orisi Navauvau, Petero Mailulu. Openside Flanker – Rusiate Lepaiono, Mosese Qionimacawa. No. 8 – Maximus Lestro, Ponipate Naliva. Halfback – Josateki Savou, Jonathan Sovasova. First Five – Everoni Koroibiau, Kalaveti Tamani. Second Five – Nemani Smith Centre – Inia D. Wing – Mitchell Simpson, Ravunivadra Uluilakeba. Full Back – Joshua Nalevea, Maika Selema. Non travelling reserves: Vailua Nitz, Asivorosi Traill, Mosese Salailagi, Taniela Senirosi, Nathan Tuilaucala. Players to contact Jiutasa Moceisui on 9235861.

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