Fiji rugby in need of playmakers

Fiji Airways Flying Fijians flyhalf Ben Volavola in action against Wales during their pool match at the Oita Stadium in Oita, Japan. Picture: FILE

Fiji needs first-five-eighths, said Fiji Rugby Union elite player pathway manager Viliame Gadolo.

The FRU, through its development programs, is working hard to identify, groom, supply and patch areas national teams are lacking such as player supply.

Especially on key and specialised positions such as the flyhalf, who masterminds and controls play, and know when, how and where to kick.

He is like an army general dictating battle tactics.

“We lack a lot of 10s in the recent years, so first-five eighth is an area that we have been lacking,” the former Suva Grammar School teacher said.

Fiji has produced some specialised playmakers such as Ben Volavola, Nicky Little, Filipe Rayasi and Alifereti Veitokani.

Volavola, 30, since his 2015 debut for Fiji, is our top choice now. With 37 Tests for the Flying

Fijians and years of club rugby spanning from across the Tasman and France, age and wear and tear are fast catching up.

Fiji is now the global supermarket for top wingers, but there’s a need to unearth and groom first-five-eighths now.

“We are glad that through the pathway programs from the under-20 onwards, we managed to get a few players.

“It is a challenge for us, but I know that in the next few years we will be able to supply a few backline players that we have currently.”

Gadolo has the backing of some of his former national teammates at the FRU in identifying new talents. They are tall timber Ifereimi Rawaqa, Kele Leawere, Koli Sewabu, Senirusi Seruvakula, Timoci Volavola, Saiasi Fuli and Simon Raiwalui.

Gadolo said the road had been hard, especially coming out of the COVID-19 lockdown, but there’s tireless effort produced to make perfect Fiji’s next generation of top rugby players.

“Situations such as the COVID- 19 do not help in the way we specifically develop our 10s players for the future.

“We have been very fortunate in the past five years since the inception of the high performance unit program with the turnover of players we have been supplying into national teams such as the under-20, Fiji Warriors and now most of our players have moved on to the Flying Fijians.

“It is a big bonus for the program and it provides a lot of motivation to players wanting to proceed and who have come through our pathway program.

The players being selected is an indication of development programs.”

Gadolo and his team conducted a two-day training camp in Suva this week to prepare his players for future tournaments.

The FRU, meanwhile, will organise a one-week tournament from December 13 in Suva for the under-20, Fiji Warriors and the HPU academy to allow game time for players.

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