Following footsteps – Rugby in the blood as Tuqiri aims for national jumper

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Emosi Tuqiri during a training session for the Melbourne Rebels in Australia. Picture: SUPPLIED

Many young people grow up trying to discover their identity and what they aspire to be or achieve in life.  That was not so for Emosi Tuqiri.

His destiny was almost predetermined, so to speak, as he was born into a family of ruggers. The 22-year-old is one of the three latest inclusions into the Fiji Drua for the Super Rugby Competition next year.

He is originally from the village of Namatakula in Nadroga, famous for producing some of the most renowned local and international icons in the world of rugby.

His father, Elia Tuqiri Sr, was a former rugby league and union player for the Brisbane Broncos and New South Wales Waratahs respectively.

Emosi is related to the Kuridrani brothers (Kirisi and Tevita) who both represented the Wallabies and former Fiji Rugby Union superstar Noa Nadruku.

As the youngest among his cousins and two siblings, Emosi would go along with them when they would go and watch rugby competitions.

“I was like the baby of the group. I would tag along with all my cousins and my older brother. They would take me to see rugby matches almost every weekend,” the prop shared.

Emosi grew up in a Fijian community in Australia where just like Fiji, all the young boys would get together in the afternoon for a game of touch rugby.

This was what probably sparked something in young Emosi to follow his rugby-playing family’s footsteps and make a name for himself in the sport.

“There were just so many role models to look up to, so I had pretty much no choice but to play rugby.”

He attended Forest Lake State School for primary education and Marist College Ashgrove for secondary. Emosi played rugby union throughout primary and secondary school as a front rower because of his built.

“I was kind of overweight when I was young and faced some challenges in terms of being selected into rep teams.”

Emosi said his school coaches would often underestimate him because he was quite slow and not up to their standards in the beginning.

“They always said that I would never be able to make it into any other team, and as a young person, I took this very personally.”

Emosi did not let the coaches views deter him from striving to become a professional rugby player like many of his relatives.

“When I graduated school I took a hard good look at myself and decided that I wanted to be the best. I wanted to prove my coaches wrong because I come from a family of rugby warriors.”

Emosi graduated high school in 2016 and was called to join the Queensland Reds Academy from 2017-2018.

“After months of training and hard work, I was called up to join the Queensland Reds training academy.”

This was where his journey in professional rugby began. In 2018, he got a call from the Fiji Rugby Union to represent the country in the under-20 division.

The side went on to win the World Rugby Under-20 competition that was held in Romania.

Fiji crushed Samoa 58-8. From there he got a call from Queensland Premier Rugby to join the GPS Rugby Club (One of the biggest rugby clubs in Australia).

Emosi proved to be a force to be reckoned with and went on to join the Melbourne Rebels from 2020 – 2022.

And this year he was called up to join the Fijian Drua. As a young child growing up immersed in rugby, Emosi said he always aspired to be like his older cousin and Wallabies rugby great, Lote Tuqiri.

Lote said Emosi had fought hard and had to overcome obstacles to get to where he is today.

“Yes, Emosi is kind of like a small brother to me. He is a very hardworking person but has had a couple of injuries along that way that have hindered his performance,” the former Wallabies winger shared.

“He would be able to achieve so much more as long as he has backing from his coaches and I can’t wait to someday see him don the white jumper.” Emosi’s father, Elia Tuqiri, said Emosi had been obsessed with rugby ever since he was a young boy.

“He used to know the names of almost every rugby player in various clubs and international sides,” he shared.

He also said Emosi would collect and keep stats of the players during his spare time. “His mother and I noticed his love for rugby since then and would always support him throughout his rugby journey.”

Emosi said his parents would always show up for his rugby matches and that was a huge boost for him personally. “Whether it was raining, snowing or whatever weather, they would make the effort to come watch me.”

For the young lad, one of the best experiences he has had during his rugby journey so far was representing Fiji at the Junior World Cup in Romania in 2018.

“Representing your country just gives a person a different type of feeling of pride and happiness.”

He now looks forward to the new season with the Fijian Drua and someday hopes to wear the Flying Fijian jumper.

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