The different side in Tuwai’s life

Jerry Tuwai gestures after scoring a try. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA/FILE

JERRY Tuwai will be turning 30 years old in a few months, and is now considered an experienced and older member of the national 7s side as they embark on another leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, this time in Hamilton New Zealand.

This very popular individual has been on a roller-coaster ride of all the highs when winning and being adored by fans and also the lows of being vilified by some members of the public when losing.

These pressures can take a toll on anyone, but Jerry has been most gracious both in victory and defeat.

Whether he is at a public function or playing a game of touch rugby you will always see that natural friendly smile which indeed makes him very likable.

Today we look at another perspective of one of Fiji’s most popular figures and take him out of the spotlight and have a peek at this more personal and relaxed individual.

I have met Tuwai many times and most recently have noticed a calm maturity that comes when being put into positions of responsibility.

On this occasion we were visiting Gospel School for the Deaf and a few other primary schools. Any visit from the 7s gladiators is always met with cheer but on this occasion it was the students of Gospel School for the Deaf who made all of us overjoyed with there presentation.

Upon meeting the children and interacting with them for some time we were all asked to take a seat as there was a very special performance to take place.

This in fact was a play that the school had been rehearsing and entailed the key storyline being a rugby game and the smaller team in stature defeating the bigger more powerful team.

This was certainly victory in adversity and left all of us moved and humbled.

Jerry in particular was very appreciative of this gesture and you could see he was touched by the school’s effort to entertain us.

The reason I am highlighting this is because we all know the public persona of Tuwai the rugby player who is always happy to oblige, but this time we saw the private and more relaxed Jerry on display.

The sensitive and more thoughtful individual, who has feelings and makes mistakes just like you and me. There are rumours that Tuwai might be leaving us soon or he may opt to stay.

Regardless of what transpires over the next few months or years you can be assured that this individual will always try his hardest to be the best he can in what he does.

To finish the visit on another positive note, there was one last surprise and that was when I decided to investigate why Tuwai was feeling intimidated, kept bowing and refusing to make eye contact with a certain individual teacher from Gospel school.

I later found out that the teacher in question that he was bowing to was a certain Salote Babitu and she taught Jerry for two years at Bishop Kempthorne Memorial School.

What a small world we live in and regardless of how popular or famous we get its nice to see we always remember the people who helped us along the way. Finally, don’t miss next week’s feature articles as we meet our Fiji Airways 7s and 15s rugby great Semi Radradra and also take a look back at the life of former rugby icon, the late and great Jonah Lomu.

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