The close of every year sadly means some of our rugby heroes call time on their playing careers. Over the last few years we have seen some of our biggest names hang the boots up including Bati stalwarts Ashton Sims and Eloni Vunakece, former Fiji number 8 Netani Talei and 7’s leader Isake Katonibau.
We thank the following players for entertaining us over the years and making their families and country proud.Embed from Getty Images
Jayson Bukuya (NRL)
Cronulla Sharks, New Zealand Warriors, Fiji Bati
The former Cronulla Shark was part of the 2008 and 2013 Rugby League World Cups. Known for his mobility and staunch defense, Bukuya played out a long and rewarding career that included 186 games (168 Sharks/16 Warriors) 11 tests for the Bati with two semi finals appearances and a premiership ring for his role in the Sharks historic first grand final victory in 2016.Embed from Getty Images
Manoa Vosawai (Rugby Union)
Parma, Treviso, Cardiff Blues, RC Vannes, Italy
Suva born Manoa Vosawai enjoyed a lengthy career spanning 17 years. From 2004 to 2010 he played 135 games for Parma Rugby FC and another 71 for Benetton Treviso up until 2014. The hard running number 8 joined Welsh Club Cardiff Blues from 2014 before finishing off his career in France. Vosawai played 17 test matches for his adopted Italy from 2007-2014 including the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
Albert Vulivuli (Rugby Union)
QLD Reds, Bourgoin, Racing 92, La Rochelle, Montpellier, Clermont, Fiji
Hard hitting Savusavu born outside back Albert Vulivuli calls time on a wonderful first grade career which began with 10 appearances for the Queensland Reds in 2009. The rest of his career he spent time at French clubs, Montpellier, Bourgoin, La Rochelle, Clermont and two stints with Racing 92 from 2010-2013 and 2016-2020.
He won the top 14 title in 2016 with Racing coming off the bench. He retires with 16 test caps to his name with 10 tries and selection at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Akuila Uate (NRL)
Newcastle Knights, Manly Sea-Eagles, Huddersfield Giants, NSW, Australia, Fiji
Former Knights speed machine Akuila “The Thriller” Uate retires one of the finest wingers in NRL history. The Nadroga native thrilled crowds throughout the decade and scored more tries in that period than any other player in the NRL.
Uate was named Dally M winger of the year for three consecutive seasons from 2010-2012, was the NRL top tryscorer in 2011 and was the RLPA players player of the year in 2011. In that three year period he also played 5 games for the Blues in State of Origin and another 5 for the Kangaroos before turning out for the Bati for the remainder of his representative career where he notched 18 games and 14 tries including the 2008, 2013 and 2017 Rugby League World Cups.Embed from Getty Images
Patrick Osborne (Rugby Union)
Crusaders, Chiefs, Highlanders, Kubota Spears, Fiji
Vanuabalavu flyer Patrick Osborne was one of the best wingers in Super Rugby from 2013-2017. He made 9 appearances for the Chiefs in 2013, the year they won the title before moving to the Highlanders where he would create a special Fijian wing combo with Waisake Naholo.
The skilful winger turned out 51 times for the Highlanders from 2014-2017, scoring 16 tries and winning the Super Rugby title in 2015. He has 6 test caps for Fiji and a memorable 2019 victory over the Barbarians where he played one of his finest matches.
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