Three the hard way
17 May, 2018, 10:28 am
THIS is neither a natural disaster warning, a terrorist attack prediction nor a prophesy of doom.
But terror will definitely strike a part of the Laucala stadium community in Suva on June 9, 16 and Lautoka on the 23rd coming in the form of Flying Fijians trio Semi Radradra, Nemani Nadolo and Josua Tuisova combining for the first time on a rugby field.
They will be pounding down and shaking the dirt with a rugby leather ball in hand blood, sweat and tears are likely for those who dare to put their lives on the line of fire.
They will be like the film Three the Hard Way, a 1974 action film starring Fred Williamson, Jim Brown, and Jim Kelly who were three martial-arts specialists who prevented the tainting of the US water supply with a toxin that’s only harmful to black people.
Imagine the most fearsome scenario in world rugby would be the rampaging run of Radradra, blistering speed of Josua Tuisova terrorising the opposition defence with the giant Nemani Nadolo running in to support, in case there are any leftover pins to knock over, as in ten-pin bowling.
Passing among themselves, chasing down a kick or just supporting a fellow Fijian teammate the emotional distress it could cause to opposition fans will still be the same. Not forgetting the unlucky Samoan, Georgian or Tongan expected to tackle them down.
Tuisova had just run 90 metres in 10 seconds when he scored a try for Toulon against Pau last weekend while Radradra have improved tremendously in the speed and devastation department.
Flying Fijians coach John McKee has concocted a volatile brew that is expected to explode and blow to smithereens any defensive structure offered by any team.
Tickets will surely be selling like hot cakes when Fijian rugby fans realise the intense level of entertainment our rugby men are expected to display in those three weeks against class oppositions.
The crunching tackles, bumps oohs and ahhs will all be there.
Apart from that two of our top men in Leone Nakarawa, a lock, and Vereniki Goneva recently scooped top prizes for their individual rugby brilliance for their respective clubs.
Coach McKee has put together one of the best and most thoroughly selected Flying Fijians teams for the June Test against Pacific neighbours and rising European power Georgia, kicking off on June 9.
The mouth-watering first day matches of Georgia against Tonga at 1pm then Fiji and Samoa at 3pm will tell us the strength of each team in the competition. Fiji play Georgia a week later also at the ANZ Stadium and Tonga the following week at Churchill Park.
While past teams had been dominated by overseas-based players in Europe this squad has a well balanced combination of overseas and local players who have risen through the development program of the schools under-20, Warriors and recently Tuwawa teams.
Specially pleasing to note is the emergence of local players who have graduated through the ranks and the top competition of the Warriors and Drua provide competition for European-based players.
Having a different style of competition in the Top 14 compared with Super Rugby and National Rugby Championship European based players will have to work on their aerobic fitness to match the home-based players and the pace of competition required at international level.
Coach McKee expects them to hit the ground running when they come into camp and Rugby World Cup selection is at stake.
McKee has the core of experienced players both in backs and forwards who have an understanding of each other’s game and he had painstakingly toiled to maintain a combination through the past years.
The 2019 RWC title is the focus and McKee is slowly piecing together bits and pieces of the Fijian crown of glory that we expect to rock the rugby world next year.
Injuries to experienced warhorses Tevita Cavubati, Levani Botia and Peceli Yato opens the door for untested players to show their form at top level competition.
The 25-year-old Semi Radrdra enjoyed a highly successful career as a winger in the National Rugby League and played one Test for Australia before making the switch to union with French club Toulon at the end of last year.
Radradra is committed to staying in union with Bordeaux for the next two years and is listed in the squad as a centre, a position he has filled for Toulon this season.
Fiji, who beat Italy and Scotland in last year’s June Test window, will play Australia, Wales, Georgia and Uruguay in Pool D next year as they bid to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup for the fourth time.
Among the new names in the team are Sevanaia Galala who plays left wing for Brive alongside Waqaniburotu and players like Masilevu, Seremaia Burotu and Sisa Koyamaibole who did not make the cut.
Galala is a formidable 1.90m 107 kg, 25-year-old Nadi man.
Hooker, Veremalua Vugakoto, plays for Nadroga and is a former Fiji under-20 captain and member of Fiji Warriors and Tuwawa teams.
Albert Tuisue of Sydney Rams and a couple of Warriors like Eroni Mawi, Rinakama and Nabou complete the mix.
McKee is on the finishing stages of this meticulously built Fijian rugby crown and has indicated that other players not in the squad are also considered for the final RWC squad.
However, among the six reserve players in the squad an unknown Moala, Nadi man Setareki Tuicuvu, has been included. He is a specialist fullback and his fans were not surprised that McKee finally discovered him because he left our shores in 2015/2016 to seek the French Blues jersey like Virimi Vakatawa.
A close relative had confided that he advised Tuicuvu to keep his option open because of the depth and enormous amount of talent he had. He plays for top club Clermont. In 2015 he took Nadi to the top finally losing to Nadroga in the final of the Skipper Cup with his goalkicking, try-scoring abilities and outstanding all-round play.
McKee has a lot of contenders for that jewel in the crown for 2019 RWC Tokyo in Japan. He may not have been fully exposed or just waiting on the wings and like Tuicuvu who has his name last on the reserve list, as if included as an afterthought.
He is on the reserve maybe, because he missed the development teams and went straight from one season of provincial competition to France. He thrives in fast action rugby and one day will be a superstar. At the moment he is still one big uncut diamond waiting his turn.
Loosehead props – Campese Maáfu, Peni Ravai, Eroni Mawi.
Hookers – Tuapati Talemaitoga, Ratunaisa Navuma, Veremalua Vugakoto.
Tighthead props – Ropate Rinakama, Kalivati Tawake, Manasa Saulo.
Locks – Sikeli Nabou, Leone Nakarawa, Api Ratuniyarawa, Albert Tuisue.
Back row – Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Viliame Mata, Mosese Voka, Nemani Nagusa, Akapusi Qera
Halfbacks – Henry Seniloli, Frank Lomani, Seupepeli Vularika. Flyhalf – Ben Volavola.
Centres – Jale Vatubua, Sevanaia Galala, Semi Radradra.
Wings – Vereniki Goneva, Josua Tuisova, Nemani Nadolo, Timoci Nagusa.
Fullback – Kini Murimurivalu.
Reserves – Eremasi Radrodro, Nikola Matawalu, Eroni Vasiteri, Patrick Osborne, Benito Masilevu, Seta Tuicuvu.
Not considered due to injury Tevita Cavubati, Peceli Yato, Levani Botia.