Fiji Junior star opts for country over club
Story and Photo: www.irbsevens.com
In the run-up to the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Fiji coach Alifereti Dere has been handed some better news with one of his brightest young stars opting to stay put and play out of Fiji.
While there is an unrivalled depth of Sevens talent within Fiji, Dere has lost key players in the past few months. Former national Sevens captain Emosi Vucago, a stand-out player this season, recently chose to take up a contract playing and coaching in the United States, following the likes of Seremaia Burotu out of the Sevens squad. More recently, utility back Mitieli Nacagilevu was ruled out for at least six weeks with a neck injury picked up during the Fiji Bitter Marist 7s.
Upcoming star Metuisela Talebula has given Dere cause for optimism, though, spurning overseas club offers to put his country first.
"I have been approached by many top overseas clubs such as Toulouse and Clermont in the France Top 14, also the Newcastle Knights rugby league club in the Australian Rugby League competition," said Talebula, who scored three tries for Fiji in last year's IRB Junior World Championship, including two in the win over Wales that guaranteed the Fijians a top-six finish for the first time.
"My main focus right now is to play for my country this year, whether it is Sevens or 15s. I have made up my mind not to sign any overseas contracts but to fly the Fiji flag with honour and dignity in the international arena.
"My childhood dream was to represent the Fiji team and since I am just starting my rugby career, I want to make the most of my time playing for Fiji."
Talebula has had a busy season, playing Sevens in Wellington and Las Vegas before joining the Fiji Warriors at the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup in Australia. He has now been released to join Dere's Sevens squad.
In Hong Kong the Fijians line up in Pool C and face early matches against Australia, France and Scotland.
The Hong Kong tournament, to be played over three days on 23-25 March, is the sixth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series and also doubles in 2012 as a 'core team' qualifier for the 2012/13 World Series.
While the current 12 core teams play one competition across Pools A, B and C, 12 other nations from across the IRB regions will battle it out for three additional core team places on offer next season.
Video: The Story of the Season so Far