Rugby plans

Leone Nakarawa is presented with the Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy by Olive Foley and her son Tony after the Flying Fijian was named European Player of the Year 2018. Picture: EPRUGBY

PLANS have been drawn up to have three star players; Leone Nakarawa, Josua Tuisova and Semi Radradra in top form for the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians and the Fiji Airways Fiji 7s team at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in July. The star players have been named by Flying Fijians head coach John McKee for the Pacific Cup campaigns next month and also in Fiji 7s coach Gareth Baber’s list for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in the US.

With concerns regarding players’ form for the abbreviated code having played 15s rugby throughout two seasons, McKee said a program would be drawn to best prepare the trio for both the tournaments.

The Flying Fijians June Tests against Georgia, Tonga and Samoa are scheduled to complete on June 23 while the 7s world cup would be from July 20-22. McKee said the players had ample time to prepare for both tournaments.

“These players have made themselves available for the 7s should Gareth decide to select them,” McKee said. “Within Fiji Rugby, we have been working on a program for these players across both the June Test Series and the RWC 7s.”

Nakarawa and Tuisova spent more than one month with Ben Ryan in the Fiji 7s team preparing for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 and played important roles in helping Fiji win its first gold medal at the games.

Meanwhile, McKee is impressed with Nakarawa’s milestone achievement during the weekend.

Dubbed as the off-load king, the Kadavu native won the European Professional Club Rugby European Player of the Year after his impressing outing with France-based Racing 92 team.

McKee said he had been following Nakarawa’s performance closely and was astounded with his latest achievements.

He said Nakarawa was an asset to any team and would play a vital role for the Flying Fijians during the Pacific Nations Cup campaign next month.

“Excellent achievement by Leone in being named European Rugby Cup Player of the Year. “I have been following Leone’s form closely and he has been playing very well for Racing in all competitions. “He is also a talented player and strong leader. I am looking forward to see him join the Flying Fijians for the June games.”

McKee said like all other professional players in the team, Nakarawa’s class and experience would be important for Fiji’s campaign this season.

He said Nakarawa would join the national team after his club commitments. Nakarawa plays alongside some of the world’s rugby stars such as Daniel Carter, Jo Rokocoko and Virimi Vakatawa.

McKee has also eyed him for next year’s RWC in Japan.


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