The Drua journey

Aporosa Tabulawaki scores for Fiji Drua against Canberra Vikings during their clash at Churchill Park in Lautoka yesterday. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

THE rough seas and adverse weather endured by the Fiji Airways Drua side during its two-year rugby voyage failed to deter the fierce Fijian warriors led by their skipper Mosese Voka as he safely steered his troops to a historic homecoming final this Saturday.

The Drua named after the Senirusi Seruvakula–coached team is a double-hulled sailing boat that was used by the itaukei in the early days as a mode of sea transportation and it was also mainly used for tribal warfare during the cannibalism era.

Under the guidance of Seruvakula the team made its debut in the National Rugby Championship last season and in just its first year of participation the team forced its way in the top four spot to secure a semi-final berth –– a huge achievement for a newcomer.

In its first season, the Fijians not only reached the semi-finals but also brought a new lease of life in the Australia competition – showcasing the trademark open and running rugby complemented by audacious off-loads, big hits, teamwork and individual brilliance.

Their unpredictable game styles and counterattacking play is second to none in the competition which has won many hearts.

The side started with a loss in their debut game when they went down to Quade Cooper’s Brisbane City 45-36 last year but bounced back strongly to send a stern warning to other teams when they thumped the Melbourne Rising 45-24 in their second game in Australia.

The Drua followed it up with another two big wins over the NSW Country Eagles and Perth Spirit 31-14 and 41-5 respectively before being humbled by the Canberra Vikings 66-5 in their fourth game.

The Fijians recovered from the loss and defeated Greater Sydney Rams 57-31 and later fell again in their 24-17 loss to Queensland Country and also to the Sydney Rays 36-29.

Despite the losses the team created history when they secured a spot in a semi-final after finishing fourth on the overall points table. The side was defeated by the Queensland Country 57-21 in the semi-final. After getting a taste of the competition, Seruvakula and his coaching team gave the players their homework and made a few adjustments to return with an improved outing.

Just over the weekend we witnessed the fruit of the hard work put in by Seruvakula and his troops when they defeated the Canberra Vikings 35-28 in the semi-final at Lautoka’s Churchill Park to create history in the NRC. This will be the first time in the history of the competition to have final away from Australia and we should commend the team for this milestone achievements.

Another achievement this year is that the side only lost one game in the round robin competition compared with the four losses they had last season –– again it all goes back to the preparation and planning.

Secret behind the success When asked of the secret recipe to this year’s outstanding performances –– below are the comments made by head coach Seruvakula.

“It’s the physicality that they bring into training and they also bring it to their game,” he said.

“And the words are always straight forward to the players –– you don’t perform you are out of the team but it is going to be hard again to come back in.

“Especially the guys on the bench they have been trying to get onto the run on team –– as you look at players like Johnny Dyer, he has been-performing all the time he comes out as an impact player.

But he is still on the bench because Eremasi Radrodro has been doing a good job and that is how we work in the Drua.

“As head coach working with local boys, we have to be strong and straight forward and the detail has to be short for the boys to best understand what we want to do.”

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