This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
FEATURE // MIDDLESEX SEVENS


THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE WINNER - AND THIS YEAR IT WAS SAMURAI, CLAIMING THE TITLE FOR THE SECOND YEAR RUNNING! WE SPOKE TO LOTE RAIKABULA, AGED 27, HE HAS BEEN EVER PRESENT WITH NEW ZEALAND SINCE 2006 AND PLAYS CLUB RUGBY FOR MANAWATU. WE CAUGHT UP WITH HIM PREPARING WITH THREE MORE FIJIANS AND 2 KIWIS FOR THE MIDDLESEX SEVENS.


Lote, you are originally from Fiji but play for New Zealand. Why is that?


Oh well I live in New Zealand and it seems unfair if you go back and play for Fiji because I know all the Fiji boys playing in Fiji want to get into the Fiji team and it seems unfair, so I might as well play for New Zealand.


Why are there so many good international calibre Fiji players? It’s not the biggest country in the world.


It’s a God given talent! At a young age we started playing touch rugby.


And does the build make a difference. I mean is everyone in Fiji like you?


Yeah it’s hard to find a fat Fijian bloke and plus it’s hot in Fiji so you can’t put on weight.


But it’s different in Samoa isn’t it? They are built quite differently from you.


I think they love their food. We love our seafood. I think they love their meat!


What’s it been like playing for New Zealand? Yeah, it’s good; it’s good. It’s like Fiji; it’s their main sport, rugby. There’s a lot of pressure being in it (the team) but that’s different from Fiji.


PHOTOGRAPHY: IAN MUIR


Do you think the standard of our elite sides is the same as the domestic tournaments back home?


It’s like a different standard but it’s tricky because you don’t know who you’re playing against, where at home you know exactly who you’re playing against and what they’re good at. You know, you watch them on telly where as at Newquay you come up against different players and they just play, you know different styles. Whereas us we’re used to playing in a structured way but in Newquay you know they are all over the show, so it’s more of a challenge for us but we really enjoyed it down there.


And are you looking forward to the Middlesex Sevens? Down under is it a highly regarded tournament?


And the coach Gordon Tietjens, he’s got what, 9 IRB Titles in 12 years? What is it that makes him special?


He’s been around for years and I think, well he’s really strict off the field like, you know, making sure he’s well organised. Yeah he’s really like gifted I think, like as a player you’re gifted with ability to play, well I think he’s gifted as a coach you know, how to coach a team. He knows how to prepare mentally, he knows how to play mind games with players and he knows how to get the best out of you, so I guess that’s what makes him so special and he has, like I said, been around for years and years so he knows everything there is to know.


Why come and play for Samurai?


I’ve played for Samurai back home and I just heard a lot of good things, like they’re well organised and Terry’s pretty straight forward, the owner. There’s been a lot of good comments about this team and they always did well in the past - I don’t want to play in a losing team!


Talking about winning, you were successful in the last National Series tournament in Newquay last weekend. Did you enjoy that experience? Was it like playing in New Zealand or was it different?


I thought it was similar.


PHOTOGRAPHY: PAPAYA PHOTOGRAPHY


Yeah, definitely. It’s up there. People back home know there’s a Middlesex Sevens so that’s why most of us are here. We wouldn’t be over here just for the National Series.


While you are over here have you taken the opportunity to do any sightseeing?


It’s a beautiful place. We would love to see the Queen. We drove passed Stonehenge. We were still guessing what is it for but we were impressed with these big rocks in the middle of nowhere. We want to go to London but we haven’t got time to do that because we’ve been training doing sessions like today. Hopefully tomorrow though. We were here just like four weeks ago for the IRB Sevens so we feel like we come here all the time. Newquay was different. We stayed in a caravan site which we enjoyed as it was different from the hotels.


Lote, you’ve been around a long time. What’s your personal rugby sevens highlight?


Yeah well it’s winning those two commonwealth gold medals (2006 and 2010). They were good and they were pretty much my highlight.


Thanks Lote, Interview by Bob Foster


18 / www.ukrugbysevens.com / Issue 4


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68