Kotobalavu chases dream; takes family legacy as an inspiration

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Tavite Waqailiti Kotobalavu with his team’s spoils after a game. Picture: SUPPLIED

Tavite Waqaliti Kotobalavu’s devastating form in the under-20 Fijian Drua is reminiscent of his dad, former Fiji national Joeli Kotobalavu and legendary grandfather Aleposo Waqaliti.

Tavite, a towering utility back, has his sights on one day donning the white jumper.

The 20-year-old has spent the past 10 years chasing that dream and if he stays true to his current form, it could soon become a reality.

Aleposo Waqailiti captained the 1984 national 7s side at the Hong Kong 7s where they managed to reach the final, defeating New Zealand 26-0.

Sadly, he passed away aged 59 in the United States in 2016.

Tavite hails from Moala in the Lau Group, and shares maternal links to Nakelo, Tailevu.

His playing days hearken back to his time at Marist Brothers Primary School in Suva Street which is renowned as an institute for developing young ruggers.

He attended Sacred Heart College for two years before leaving Fiji to live with his father, Joeli Kotobalavu, in New Zealand where he started playing competitive rugby when he was only 15.

While in New Zealand, he joined several rugby clubs and institutions while attending Roncalli College in Timaru.

From 2019 to 2021, he represented his Aoraki 1XV Roncalli College side as a utility back – donning 12, 13, and 14.

Throughout that period until a year later, he also participated in the Dunedin Club 7s competition where he represented the South Canterbury Fijians 7s team, which his father co-managed and coached.

Apart from rugby, the young lad also played volleyball and was even part of his Roncalli College side which competed in the Aoraki Volleyball competition.

Early last year, he joined the Rugby Southland Pioneer Football Club, an affiliate of the New Zealand Rugby Union where he helped the club win the Speights Shield after a 61-year drought.

Tavite described himself as a “young Fijian pursuing a better future in New Zealand through rugby and education”.

He said he was excited at being named in the U20 Fijian Drua side and was determined to prove his worth and live up to his family’s rugby legacy.

His mother Salome Waqailiti said she and her family were proud of their son’s achievement.

“He is a caring, hardworking and trustworthy person and he is very sociable. He has the ability to fit in with new environments and is a team player,” she said.

Ms Waqaliti added that while Tavite has been playing rugby for only three years, credit goes to his dad and step mother for always supporting him.

“Rugby is his passion. He is chasing his dream of making a name in professional rugby.

“Apart from the Fijian Drua, he is also looking forward to the World Cup with the Fiji U20 side.”

Tavite is being personally coached by his dad and takes his family legacy in the oval ball game as an inspiration to always drive him to push the boundaries whenever he takes to the rugby field.

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