Still walkabout in Fiji, Sireli Naqelevuki continued to make a mockery of Western Province rugby when he failed to arrive for the third straight day, and could not be contacted either.
Dale Granger reports for IOL.
It was all hands to the pump at training this week as Dylan Des Fountain fell out of the squad travelling to Kimberley for the Currie Cup game against Griquas with a hamstring injury.
The presence of Naqelevuki would thus have been a godsend had he arrived as scheduled on Monday night, when coach Allister Coetzee and manager Chippy Solomons travelled to the airport in vain to meet the wing-cum-centre.
“We’ve been trying to contact him, but it appears his cellphone has been switched off,” said Coetzee on Wednesday. However, Naqelevuki’s agent had told WP that the player had been put on standby and would be arriving on Wednesday night.
“We’ve got no idea where he is. Funny, because when we were in Auckland during the Super 14 we gave him two days off to go back to Fiji and he came back promptly,” said Solomons.
Two years ago Naqelevuki took weeks to arrive back from Fiji, finally landing with a litany of excuses over his disappearance, a few months before he tested positive for marijuana and was suspended.
Province now have little choice but to take disciplinary action against Naqelevuki, but Coetzee was reluctant to confirm this was the intention.
He said a decision would have to be taken by WP managing director Rob Wagner. Wagner, however, is in Knysna and said earlier this week that he was getting away from rugby for a few days and “enjoying the oysters and beer”.
One can only imagine what Naqelevuki might be enjoying back in Fiji that is keeping him in the country, while the WP coaching staff pull their hair out in frustration.
His absence compounds Province’s potential problem in Kimberley should debutant Morgan Newman break down with an injury. The team will then have to fall back on another rookie, PJ Vermeulen, as cover off the bench.
Naqelevuki would have been an asset in Province’s backline against a team that are no pushovers at home, and where they only lost to the Cheetahs by four points.
The Fijian also received rave reviews for his performance at outside centre in the recent Pacific Cup, his original position before Province recast him in a new role at No 11.Tweet