Super Sefa driven by his mother's parting words

by Sam Phillips

Sefa Naivalu never looks any further than his number one fan when searching for motivation.

His late mother Teresia Uluilakeba, who passed in 2012, will always be the driving force behind the Fijian flyer.

When Naivalu takes to the field on Saturday it will be almost 500 days since he last played Test rugby - against Italy last June - and through what has been a frustrating journey the 26-year-old has always kept his mother in his thoughts.

"She is one of my motivations all the time," Naivalu said in Tokyo on Thursday.

"Before she passed away she was my number one supporter in my rugby back home.

"Before she passed away the last words she said was don't forget your younger brother and sister back home.

"Those words still motivate me today. Now I am looking after them back home."

Naivalu is back in the Wallabies' starting XV. Photo: WalmsleyNaivalu is now on the other side of a nasty ankle injury and lingering shin soreness issues which have plagued his growth since starring for the Wallabies in his last Test.

The two tries he scored against the Italians were those of a player more than capable of firing at Test level and the Rebels back doesn't intend on giving the starting slot up again.

"It has been really frustrating for me with a lot of injuries but I just want to be positive every day," he said.

"Getting through my rehab stuff and trying to work myself into the team."

Through a frustrating rehab Naivalu, once again, reminded himself of his late mother.

"When she passed away I knew that there would be a hard time and you just have to get through it," he said.

Naivalu was last seen in Wallaby gold last June. Photo: Walmsley"My family back home is one of my motivations and that's why I keep pushing myself."

Now Naivalu has pushed his way back into the starting XV he must follow the lead of former schoolmate and fellow Melbourne Rebel Marika Koroibete.

Since debuting against Argentina in Canberra last year Koroibete has started 15 Tests and is yet to relinquish his spot on the wing.

Naivalu's last Test came before Koroibete's first and while they haven't played together in the Test arena they spent time on the same side as schoolboys.

"I've been up and down and jamming my ankle but now I've been able to make my way back into the team," Naivalu said.

"I have been trying to improve my fitness and work hard for the team and be consistent as well."

The Wallabies face the All Blacks in Yokohama on Saturday, kicking off at 5pm AEDT, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten and radio.