With just 8 months to go until the Rugby World Cup kicks off in Japan, two stalwart members of the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians have announced they will step away from the international arena.
Montpellier wingers Timoci Nagusa and Nemani Nadolo both revealed to the world their decisions to hang up their White Jersey’s from their home bases in France after a combined 56 test caps for Fiji.
Fiji Airways Flying Fijians Head Coach John McKee was aware of the duo’s intended decision but it didn’t make the news any easier to digest.
“It was with disappointment that I received the news that 2 experienced Flying Fijians, Timoci Nagusa (26.test caps) & Nemani Nadolo (30 test caps), have announced their retirement from International Rugby.
I had been in personal contact with both players prior to the announcements over recent days and fully understand & respect their decisions.”
McKee thanked the two veteran backs for what they’ve given to the national team over the last decade.
“I thank these players for their contribution to the Flying Fijians over the years both on & off the field through their exceptional play & team leadership.”
In many ways retirements such as these show us the pressure our Flying Fijians can be under juggling their Professional Rugby Career, possible injuries, living in Europe, family life & making themselves available to represent their country.
Nagusa and Nemani both cited their time in the White Jersey as an incredible honour and something they never took for granted, with the time being right to make way for the future.
“With a few months away to the RWC today I’ve decide to hang up my international boots, 12 years I’ve had the privilege to Represent my Country Fiji when I’m available, I’ve had the greatest moments, played with so many talented players.
I was never a keeper for The Jersey, having that palm logo on my heart,I run onto the field for my family and everyone that have always supported me” said Nagusa.
For the towering enforcer Nadolo who made such an impact for Fiji in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the sentiment was much the same.
“The moment I debuted as a “caretaker” of the jersey in 2010 I would have never thought I’d have played for this long and represented the tiny island of Fiji. I want to thank all the coaches, trainers, physios and people I have come in contact with during my time.
To all the past and present players whom I’ve had the honour of playing along side, I want to say big VINAKA.. Most of all to the people of Fiji both in Fiji and abroad i just want to let you all know that it’s been a pleasure to have represented you all over the years.”
As these two players concentrate on the rest of their Top 14 season with Montpellier, McKee remains firmly focussed on the job at hand for Fiji in Japan later this year, noting that there is plenty of competition for places in that coveted squad.
“As good a players as both Timoci & Nemani are there is of course no guarantee that they would make the final selection for RWC.
We now have a very good depth of players who can play well at the highest level of the game in Test Match Rugby and a lot of competition across the team to make the final selection for RWC 2019.
2019 is a very important year for the Flying Fijians and there will be a lot of hard work & commitment required to ensure that the final selected squad is fully prepared to put in our best performance at RWC 2019” he said.