Stormers coach and Western Province Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus return from Fiji on Monday and accompanying him on the flight is one Sireli Naqelevuki.
Jan De Koning of rugby365.com reveals that, contrary to media reports, the main purpose of the Province boss’s trip to the Pacific Islands was to ensure the Fijian flyer, Naqelevuki, return to Cape Town to continue his career with WP and the Stormers.
Naqelevuki, who has gone ‘absent without leave’ before, failed to report for training with his provincial outfit in July.
Naqelevuki was on duty with Fiji in the International Rugby Board (IRB) Pacific Nations Cup tournament, and was due back in Cape Town to resume his contractual obligations with WP in the Currie Cup.
But the big wing failed to show up, despite numerous attempts to contact the player.
This prompted Erasmus to jump on a plane and go see the player for himself.
Erasmus and Naqelevuki are scheduled to land in Cape Town late on Monday, after a trip initially described in media reports as an attempt to sign more Fijian stars.
As was reported by Rugby 365 another Fijian flyer, Rupeni Caucaunibuca, had approached the Stormers about the possibility of a contract – he had also approached Leicester Tigers in England and the Sydney-based Waratahs.
However, Erasmus’ trip to Fiji was not the “recruitment drive” it was made out to be, but his main purpose was to return with Naqelevuki.
Erasmus did take some time out to look at the local Fijian club competition, saying some of the talent on show had caught his eye.
“Fijians are so talented and are good at rugby,” Erasmus told the Fiji Times.
“We will look at fielding our local players first and should there be a need to fill a position I will not have a problem taking a Fijian on board.
“I am especially here to learn more about the players and their environment and how we can deal with them, and what is important to them.
“This is the same for Sireli because I wanted to see how he did things here and what his lifestyle and family life was like compared to the South Africa situation.”Tweet