Our bronze medallist in the list of the Top 100 Players in the World goes to Fijian Leone Nakarawa
The 100 Best Players In The World: 3 Leone Nakarawa
Country Fiji Date of Birth 2.4.88 Position Lock
Here’s an insight Nakarawa gave Rugby World during the 2015 World Cup: “We used to play in rivers with water up to our chests or necks, so we had to get our arms up to pass.”
Rugby should be grateful he had that upbringing for it has made him the best offloader in the world. In the European Champions Cup against Leicester, he made ten offloads in an astounding performance – nearly double what the entire Tigers 23 managed. “He looks like an 18-year-old playing with 12-year-olds and he doesn’t want to hurt them,” said BT’s Ben Kay.
It makes him so exciting to watch. It’s edge-of-the-seat stuff when he gets the ball and you await the spell he is going to weave. “Whatever picture presents in front of him he will try to find a solution. It’s fantastic, off the cuff,” says Ronan O’Gara, who coached him at Racing 92.
He consistently topped the Pro12 offload charts during his time at Glasgow Warriors, where he famously fasted before their 2015 league triumph, and it was his performances for the Scottish side that alerted Racing to his talent.
He’s not just an offloader: he’s athletic in the lineout, strong over the ball and uses footwork to flummox defenders. And he has a huge engine, which he put to good use when helping Fiji win Olympic gold. He has also turned out regularly for his country’s 15-a-side team and is set to win his 50th cap in 2018.
Yet what is so refreshing about Nakarawa is his pure love of the game, his childlike exuberance. He doesn’t get caught up in risk-versus-reward debates.
“As soon as you feel like you want to do something, do it,” is his advice. “Don’t think about the negative side of it, just do it, otherwise it will be too late.”
Long may he continue to entertain.
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