In the space of just a few days, the Fijian Drua have lost the services of two of their most impressive players from their inaugural season in Super Rugby Pacific.
Vinaya Habosi was already confirmed to be heading to France following the Drua’s upcoming campaign but the powerhouse winger now won’t play any role in the 2023 Super Rugby season.
“Vinaya Habosi has had his contract terminated with immediate effect, due to a high-level breach of the club’s code of conduct,” the Drua said in a statement last week.
Habosi was a revelation on the left wing last season, finishing the 2022 campaign with 56 beaten defenders to his name – behind just Timoci Tavatavanawai and Will Jordan on the overall standings. He debuted for the Fijian national side later in the year and managed five appearances, taking on the likes of Scotland, Ireland, Tonga and Samoa.
While Habosi’s shift overseas was already a blow for the Drua, losing his services for the current season as well is a further disruption to a side that will be pushing for a quarter-final place in just their second year as a Super Rugby side.
The Drua will at least be able to call upon one of their other breakout stars, Kalaveti Ravouvou, for 2023 but his time with the club is also rapidly coming to an end, with Bristol announcing today that Ravouvou will join the Premiership cellar-dwellers on a multi-year deal kicking off in 2023/2024.
Ravouvou was also in the top 10 players for defenders beaten last season and was a destructive force in the midfield, making the No 12 jersey his own. Like his teammate Habosi, Ravouvou also debuted for the national side after his standout season, featuring three times for the Flying Fijians.
The Drua also lost the services of Onisi Ratave after last year’s campaign and in the space of just two years, will have churned through three of their most pivotal backs.
Habosi, Ravouvou and Ratave won’t necessarily be lost to the national set-up and the argument could be made that the Drua are doing exactly what was intended of them when they were first brought into the Super Rugby mix, assisting in the development of players for the highest level of the game.
The problem, however, is that the Drua can’t just be a feeder club, they have to be able to stand on their own two feet – and that’s going to be difficult if they lose their top players to foreign clubs as soon as they start performing at Super Rugby level.
In 2022, the Drua managed just two wins – over Moana Pasifika and the Melbourne Rebels – and finished in 11th place. While they will certainly have aspirations of pushing the more established sides this season now that they have some more experience under their belt, that’s going to be difficult to do if their top stars drop like flies.
SOURCE: RUGBY PASS/PACNEWS