For close to a decade, the NSW Shute Shield has contributed about 30-40 % of super rugby players in Australia.
Along with that came wave after wave of smiling Pacific Islanders and the commitment to spend two or three nights around Sydney chasing a Gilbert around suburban ovals which led many to higher honors; including the chase for Super rugby.
The Fijian Drua representation from Shute brings three young energetic, robust forwards that will hope to carve their names in our maiden season.
In 2020 Ratu Rotuisolia burst on to the scene from Colts rugby with Sydney University. A club that has developed several high profile players for the Wallabies, Ratu benefited from a professional outfit and the resources at its disposal. A breakout season in the second row, the smiling assassin was quick to establish himself as one of their leading post contact meters percentages.
Ratu was rewarded with his selection for the Waratahs Selection against Argentina as a warm up for the visiting nation for the Rugby Championships in 2020. Covid would rob the young robust forward as Argentina withdrew from the match at the 11th hour. The Brumbies also showed interest in the young forward and a stint in the Dent Cup looked on the cards for 2021. Ratu chose to remain in Sydney and during pre season sustained a injury that kept him out for the early stages of season 2021.
Earning his way through the lower grades after rehabilitation, the young forward shone through towards the end of their regular season and France beckoned for the promising young forward. A phone call from Ratu in late August to say that the Drua had expressed interest whilst he was getting ready to go to France. He had two offers on the card to contemplate. But that was an easy conversation with young Rotuisolia and a fortnight later he signed with the Drua.
Isoa Nasilasila is a product of Fiji rugby pathways and established himself as a leading lock with heavyweights Southern Districts .Naturally quite athletic and aggressive, at 6′ 6 he shows versatility that not many second rowers embody. Quick, effective at set pieces, he has an abundance of energy and excels in the physical battle and also in defense.
When his signing with the Drua was announced, Southern District were quick to congratulate the young lock forward who held his own amongst other big names at the club.Embed from Getty Images
Last but not least is the rise of Joseva Tamani. A product of the Rebels system and one that got away.
Tamani spent 2020 playing for Ovalau in the Vanua Cup. 2021 turned out to be a break out year for the young loosie. Signed by new club Hunter Wildfire, Joe Tamani worked his way to becoming one of the brightest uncapped lock forwards of the Shute Shield . Some eye catching displays mid season and the young loose forward was drafted into the Waratahs squad to provide cover for the later stages of Trans Tasman Super Rugby.
At 22, 23 and 24 years of age, these three players from NSW Shute Shield competition will be part of a new generation that will lead the way for Fiji rugby along with our local products in Chris Minimbi and Sorovakatini Tuifagalele. With RWC 2023 spots up for grabs, these young men are happy to pave their way for the Drua in Super Rugby Pacific.
Originally posted in the Fiji Rugby Players Forum Facebook Group