Tevita treated to special homecoming

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

Growing up as a boy in the small village of Namatakula, Tevita Kuridrani dreamt of one day being a professional rugby player.

This week, he returned to that same village to celebrate a remarkable feat - becoming the first Fijian born player to notch 50 caps for the Wallabies.

It is an incredible achievement, considering the sheer number of Fijian born players that have pulled on the gold jersey before him.

To celebrate, Kuridrani returned to his village, with Henry Speight, Josh Mann-Rae and Aussie Sevens co-captain Shannon Parry by his side.

"It was my dream to become a professional rugby player when I was at school but I never knew that one day I would come back as a Wallaby," he told RUGBY.com.au.

"I'm very special and very thankful to the village for welcoming me.

"We had the welcoming here at home, with all the villagers and then we had one for my 50th with my family.

"It's been nice, especially to have Josh and Henry here.

"To take them round, show them round the village, show them where I grew up."

Kuridrani and co were treated to a traditional welcome upon arrival at Namatakula, as well as a special ceremony to celebrate Kuridrani's 50th cap.

"It's quite an honour to have him here, especially after his 50th Test with the Wallabies," Tevita's father, Inosi said.Kuridrani, Parry, Mann-Rae and Speight were part of a ceremony celebrating Kuridrani's 50th cap. Photo: Samu Kuridrani"We held the ceremony to acknowledge what he achieved in his rugby career.

"It is quite an achievement for us because there are also a few boys from this village that played for Australia, the Wallabies, but they have not achieved what T has achieved.

"I'm very, very proud of what he has done for the Brumbies and for the Wallabies."

Mann-Rae had never experienced village life before and said it truly was an eye opening experience.

"I think that's one of the special things about having Tevita and Henry in our side - we get to come back and experience things like this," Mann-Rae said.

"I've never experienced life like this so to come over here and get the full on welcome ceremony, plant trees for the kids and put on a ceremony up at the school, it's very special."