He was one of the heroes for the Flying Fijians at the Rugby World Cup 2011, eight months later, 28-year-old Vereniki Goneva is ready to shine once more for Fiji at the Pacific Nations Cup and the Scotland Test next month.
The winger is best remembered for his 4-try blitz in his RWC debut in Fiji's 49-25 win over Namibia in their opening game in New Zealand last year.
Goneva who recently signed with English club, Leicester Tigers for the next two seasons from French ProD2 club Tarbes told FijiLive he has matured in his game.
“Firstly, I would like to thank God for His protection and guidance for without Him, I wouldn’t be here today taking another step up in my career one year on,” he said.
“And I would also to thank the selectors for their faith and confidence in my ability to grant me a spot in a team that has a host of new faces. It’s a challenge for me to keep my game face on and continue to improve on it when I take the pitch.
“I am ready to step up my game and help the team in every way possible.”
When asked about his experience at the RWC2011 in New Zealand, the former Nadi and 7s captain said he has moved on from that outing.
“I would not want to dwell on what happened then. It had happened and I can’t change it. This is a whole new beginning for me in the PNC and I would like to start afresh from here.”
He rates Japan, Tonga and Samoa as very promising and competitive sides and expect them to come up with their A game during the PNC as places in the IRB world ranking are at stake in this June international window.
“They are all very good teams with overseas-based players, but I believe our coaches have the plans thought out for each game. And we have a whole bunch of young yet very skillful players coming up the ranks who share the same pride in wearing the Fiji jersey.”
Goneva who is one 24 players named in head coach Inoke Male’s team to travel to Japan for their two PNC matches against Japan and Tonga will return to Fiji for the Tonga PNC game and the Scotland Test.
“I don’t return to France until July when I begin my term with Leicester. So after the PNC, it’d be great to catch up with the family before going back for more rugby.”
The 24-member PNC squad departs for Japan this Friday.
The Nagado villager made his debut in the 2007 PNC against Samoa in Apia. The same year he made his first 7s appearance for Fiji at the Samoa Pacific Games before he forced his way into the 12-man squad to Dubai and George for the 2007/2008 IRB 7s Series.
Goneva has been through the ranks, played in the Colonial Cup, the Pacific Rugby Cup, the provincial XVs competition and the Farebrother-Sullivan trophy with Nadi and the Barbarians.
In 2009 he was part of the squad to the RWC7s in Dubai where he was co-captain alongside ‘man mountain’ Semisi Naevo.
PNC 24-member squad: 1. Kelemedi Bola, 2. Aloisio Butonidualevu, 3. Graham Dewes, 4. Vereniki Goneva, 5. Aisake Katonibau, 6. Kelevi Ketedromo, 7. Simeli Koniferedi, 8. Benedito Koroi, 9. Setareki Koroilagilagi, 10. Nikola Matawalu, 11. Apisai Naikatini, 12. Waisea Daveta, 13. Leone Nakarawa, 14. Seremaia Naureure, 15. Nemia Kenatale, 16. Iliesa Ratuva, 17. Mala Ravulo, 18. Setefano Somoca, 19. Netani Talei (Captain), 20. Viliame Veikoso, 21. Samu Bola, 22. Watisoni Votu, 23. Waisea Nayacalevu, 24. Jerry Yanuyanutawa
Following the Japan Test four players will join the squad in Japan in preparation for Fiji’s second PNC match against Samoa on June 10. The four players are:
Kameli Ratuvou, Niko Ratumaitavuki, Josefa Domolailai and Tuapati Talemaitoga.