In the early 2000’s we saw the likes of Norman Ligairi and Kameli Ratuvou don the 15’s 15 jersey, Lote Tuqiri in the 2000 RLWC for the Bati and of course our Seven’s stars including Waisale Serevi, William Ryder and Nasoni Roko who all played a combination of sweeper and playmaker.
All our top players lists are judged on the player performances in the given time period and include all Rugby players from all codes who identity as Fijian, are Fijian born or partly Fijian through heritage. These include their club and representative performances regardless of their representative nation.
Seven’s players who played the sweeper role or the last line of defense are considered fullbacks for the purpose of this post.
Since 2010 we’ve had some fantastic Fijian fullbacks around the world so we’ve gone ahead and named our top 6 for the decade.
6. Metuisela Talebula (2012-2019)
Metuisela Talebula first appeared for Fiji in the 2011 IRB Junior World Championship. That same year he made his way into the Fiji Sevens team and into the Flying Fijians 12 months later. The 2013/2014 Top 14 Top tryscorer is Currently playing for Bayonne as a winger or fullback and has been a regular for Fiji playing over 25 games mostly at fullback.
5. Isikeli Nacewa (2010-2016)
Many will remember Isa Nacewa as the gifted player who only played one match for Fiji, albeit all of three minutes at the 2003 World Cup. Isikeli has eluded a return to the white jersey since and in that time has forged a decorated career in the UK for Irish club Leinster, winning the Heineken/ERC Cup four times, a record for any player. Had Nacewa made himself available for selection there is every chance he would have been a great fullback or fly-half for the national team.
4. Kevin Naiqama (2013-2019)
The inspiring Fiji Bati captain and ever reliable fullback. Kevin first played at 1 for the Bati at the 2013 RLWC and continued to do so for the remainder of the decade. His finest performance came in the 2017 World Cup where he guided an under-strength Bati team to the RLWC Semi Final and a history making victory over tier one nation New Zealand. He has also won a Challenge Cup and Super League Title with St Helens in 2019.
3. Kini Murimurivalu (2011-2019)
A long time servant for Fiji who recently competed at his third World Cup. Kini was first selected in 2011 World Cup and has continued to prove his worth for Fiji earning selection at the following 2015 and 2019 tournaments. Known for his reliability and offloading ability, Kini has had a brilliant career in the French Top 14 with La Rochelle since 2012 and representing Fiji on over 25 occasions.Embed from Getty Images
2. Jerry Tuwai (2014-2019)
The veteran of the Fiji 7’s squad and gunning for his second Gold Medal in Tokyo later this year. Tuwai was spotted by Ben Ryan in 2014 and from the moment Jerry stepped onto the field for Fiji, he has consistently been one of Fiji’s greatest attacking weapons and match winning players. His achievements include the 2018/2019 World Rugby Sevens player of the year, an olympic Gold Medal and three World Sevens Series championships. He is currently tied with Nasoni Roko for most tries for Fiji in the sevens series with 125.
Before we finish off the list, we’d like to mention a few others who were considered; Vilimoni Koroi, Iliesa Keresoni, Sitiveni Moceidreke, Amenoni Nasilasila, Michael Little and Tomasi Cama Jnr.
1. Jarryd Hayne (2010-2018)
Few rugby players in either code possessed the star quality Hayne brought to the field. While his legendary season in 2009 is prior to the period we’re judging, he still reached great heights post 2010 including a stint with the Fiji sevens team and famously gaining a spot on the San Francisco 49ers 53 man roster merely months after switching codes and earns his place as our best Fijian fullback for the past decade.
His list of accomplishments include the Dally M medal in 2014, NSW Series Win 2014 and NSW player of the year, and being named in the NRL team of the decade. Jarryd was also a World Cup winner for Australia in 2013 and represented the Bati again in 2017 at five-eight.
Join in the conversation
So do you think we’ve missed anyone? Give us your list from the past decade and tell us what you would change in the comments below.