Giant wing to return to Waratahs

    2016-05-27 10:52

    Cape Town - Wallabies winger Taqele Naiyaravoro, who last played for the Waratahs in 2015, is set to return to the Sydney based team for the 2017 and 2018 Super Rugby seasons after playing for Glasgow Warriors in Scotland.

    The giant back will be available to play for the Waratahs in the final three regular season Super Rugby matches this season, having already earned 20 caps for the Sydneysiders across 2014 and 2015 and one cap for the Wallabies.

    Waratahs head coach, Daryl Gibson, said Naiyaravoro’s decision to re-join the Waratahs and Australian rugby was a huge coup.

    “I’m delighted to have him back and competing for a wing spot. He’s a different type of winger and uses his size and speed to good effect," Gibson told the Waratahs' official website.

    “He will add to our strike power out wide, increasing the competition for our back three.

    “I’m sure he has grown as a player too, having experienced northern hemisphere rugby.”

    At 1.95m tall and around 125kg, Naiyaravoro is amongst the tallest in the Waratahs squad behind Will Skelton.

    A powerful try-scorer, he made five appearances off the bench for the Waratahs during their Super Rugby championship year in 2014, scoring his debut Super Rugby try in just his third game against the Highlanders in round 18 that year.

    His run-on debut came the following season, when he started on the right wing on 11 occasions and crossed for eight tries. At the conclusion of the 2015 regular season, which was just his second in Super Rugby, Naiyaravoro finished amongst the top five try-scorers.

    On a per game average he was second to Israel Folau in line breaks (1.7 per game) and tackles broken (3.3 per game) for the Waratahs in 2015.

    Naiyaravoro was born in the remote Yasawa archipelago in Fiji. He was schooled at Cuvu College and Suva Grammar School in Fiji where he was part of the rugby union and track teams.

    Playing on the wing and at flank in those days, Naiyaravoro was selected to represent his country in Fiji's Under-16 side. He was spotted by a scout at the secondary schools rugby championship in Fiji, which saw him move to New Zealand where he joined the Tamaki Sports Academy and Otahuhu Rugby Club.

    The stocky wing has also dabbled in rugby league, representing the national Fijian Bati team in the 13-man code in 2011. He was selected in that side again in 2013, with the chance to star at the Rugby League World Cup, but was unable to take part due to an ankle injury.

    In 2012, at just 21 years of age he was recruited by the Wests Tigers rugby league team in Australia. Despite never making it on to the park in the top tier, he scored 23 tries in just 15 games for the Balmain Tigers in the NSW Cup.

    He was released by the Tigers in early 2014 to pursue his career in rugby union. Joining the Two Blues, Naiyaravoro made his Shield debut at wing and inside centre, crossing for two tries and breaking through defensive lines on several occasions.

    He was soon picked up by the Waratahs, signing his first professional rugby contract with the club for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

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