What’s in that number? | The cost of wearing Fiji colours

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Fiji 7s players Jerry Tuwai, left, shakes hands with Vuiviwa Naduvalo after a game. Picture: MARTIN SERA LIMA

Wearing the Fiji rugby jersey comes with a price. In a moving jersey presentation ceremony at the Fiji Airways Fiji 7s team in London that was posted on Facebook, the veteran and two-time Olympic Games gold medallist Jerry Tuwai has put everything in God’s hands.

Lately, the “7s Player of the Decade” has been wearing the number 30 jersey.

He said as a player growing up, he always admired Lionel Messi for his personality.

Messi’s football jersey number is also 30.

Tuwai said through Messi, he learned through trial and error and wasn’t afraid to challenge the norms of society even with his size.

“I’m not sure after this week, will I ever wear this jersey again or not … only God knows,” Tuwai said while receiving his jersey.

“We may make plans, but its God who knows what is our destiny.”

He said the jersey had given him challenging times, but preferred to stay in the fight.

“I know a lot has been said about me for the past 10 years, I have coped a lot of criticism. I have never surrendered, I never say a word, I silently did what is shouldered upon me.”

While speaking to his teammates, who he called veitacini, he thanked Vuiviwa Naduvalo for taking heed of the nation’s call and staying with the team despite the passing of his father.

“With the sad news from home, he (Naduvalo) chooses to stay and play for the nation,” Tuwai said.

The side was to take on Australia in the quarter-final of the London 7s last night when this edition went to press.

“I know a lot of the things we go through; people back home do not know.

“A lot of people say careless things and words that are not good — that is their right because this team is not ours — it’s the vanua’s team.”

Tuwai said he was a “crazy follower” of football. “I don’t really follow rugby on television, even when I am not with the team, I don’t watch them play,” he said.

“My family members will be shocked when they wake up in the wee hours of the morning, I will be in front of the TV watching La Liga, Serie A, EPL, Bundesliga – you name it.”

The side was to take on Australia in the quarter-final of the London 7s last night when this edition went to press.

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