Rugby mantra paying off for Naivalu

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Get there early, get there first, get one more.

That is the mantra Sefa Naivalu has been playing under, and one that’s helped him push his way back into the Wallabies’ starting side against Italy.

Naivalu was one of the incumbents on the wing coming into 2017 but an injury-riddled start of the year meant he was on the back foot coming into June.

“I've just been working very hard on my speed and skills and fitness - Cheik and the other coaches have been mentioning, ‘Get in early, get there first, get one more,’,” he said.

“I'm very happy to be given this opportunity, been working on what the coach has been telling me, fitness wise, after having injuries during the Super Rugby season and back on track and I'm very grateful for this opportunity.”

Though he has played in the centres and on the wing, when he is on the edges, Naivalu’s goal for improvements is forcing his way into the game.

It’s an issue the Rebels exposed for both Naivalu and Koroibete in a dismal Super Rugby season and the Fijian speedster said it was up to him to make an impact.

“I can't just stand out there, expecting the ball to come to me, I've been trying to work myself back into the game and get more ball,” he said.

In a week where players’ passion has been questioned, Naivalu is at least one very obvious counter argument to that of apathy.

Naivalu bided his time to earn a Wallabies debut last year, after three years in Australia, and knows exactly how much he needs to do to stay ahead of an increasingly suffocating wing department.

“All those other players in Super Rugby in Australia want to be given this opportunity so I need to work doubly hard,” he said.

“It's all about work rate and repeat effort and making sacrifices and you'll get a spot in the team.

“When it comes to training, you've just got to show everything and leave it out there on the field.”

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika sad he couldn't ignore Naivalu's hard work in camp.

“Naivalu is getting an opportunity this week, he’s been outstanding in the las few weeks of training,”he said.

“He’s another player who’ had a chequered preseason, injuries all year and now

"He’s got some running under his belt, he’s looking fast and fit.

“I want to give him a chance.”

The Wallabies take on Italy on Saturday, kicking off at 3pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and RADIO. Buy tickets here.