The Fijian Drua has today unveiled the first five players signed by the Club for its debut Super Rugby Pacific season in 2022.
Electric backline utility Napolioni Bolaca, Flying Fijians’ hooker Tevita Ikanivere, blockbusting winger Onisi Ratave, powerful loose forward Nemani Nagusa and rising star halfback Simione Kuruvoli are onboard for Super Rugby Pacific’s newest side.
The five also attained the coveted 1 through 5 ‘Drua Numbers’, with Olympic Gold Medalist Bolaca honoured as Fijian Drua Number 1. All players in the squad will be assigned a number they will retain for life. The numbering system is based on a combination of factors, which include the Club’s depth chart and sign up commitments from each player.
Interim Fijian Drua CEO Brian Thorburn said the Club was delighted to make its maiden squad-related announcement: “We’re steaming ahead towards our historic first season, and today’s naming signals our intentions – we are going to delight rugby fans with that typical Fijian flair and playing style. It also underscores our commitment to offer a pathway for Fijian players into Super rugby. The competition is about to get a whole lot more exciting, and we can’t wait for rugby fans to see our Fijian Drua in action.”
The Fijian Drua will announce a further 32 players over the next several weeks.
Thorburn added: “The inclusion of Napolioni Bolaca Fijian Drua Number 1 is well deserved. He exemplifies some of the key values of our Club, and plays the game with pure joy and heart. ‘Naps’ is an excitement machine with a ‘never say die’ attitude in whichever position he plays. Of course, Fijian rugby fans are familiar with what he tells himself when he is tired.”
Fiji Rugby General Manager High Performance Unit Simon Raiwalui said the today’s announcement sets the foundation for what fans could expect from the full squad.
“All five players unveiled today are homegrown and have come through our Fiji Airways Fijian 7s, Age-Group or High Performance programmes. It is wonderful to be able to reward these players with a professional contract to play in the world’s best club rugby competition.”
Raiwalui expanded on the attributes of the first tranche of players.
“Naps is World Rugby Sevens Series’ top point scorer for 2019/2020, and will be an excellent backline utility option in the squad as a flyhalf, fullback or winger.”
“Hooker Tevita Ikanivere has a wonderful story. He was the Fiji-U20 Captain in 2018 when the side won the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy to gain promotion into the 2019 World Rugby U20 Championship. Tevita has played for the Fiji Warriors (2019; 2 caps), the former NRC Drua (2019; 7 caps) and has a Flying Fijians cap to his name (2020 Autumn Nations Cup against Georgia).”
“Winger Onisi Ratave has been part of the extended Fijian 7s and Flying Fijians squads in 2021. He is currently making waves for Bay of Plenty in New Zealand’s NPC competition, and will bring the same speed and power to the Fijian Drua.”
“Nemani Nagusa returns home with valuable international experience with Stade Aurillacois Cantal Auvergne in France’s Pro D2 and the Newcastle Falcons in England’s Premiership. As a former 7s player, he possesses power and offload skills and will be a valuable addition to the back-row.”
“Finally, Simione Kuruvoli is yet another home-grown star who has come through the ranks of the Fiji U-20s and Fiji Warriors. He already has two Flying Fijians caps, and really held his own against the world’s best halfback earlier this year when we played the All Blacks. This is just reward for his patience and toil over these years.”
The Fijian Drua will also reveal its coaching staff shortly. A new brand, website, social channels will also follow, along with a number of exciting membership options for fans and juniors.