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Deans dropout, League experience spurs Momo to HK 7s pick

A failed Deans trials campaign to represent his school and a rugby league switch spurred the youngest member of the Fiji 7s team to the Hong Kong 7s to excel in the sport he truly loves.

19-year-old Nalotawa, Ba native, Akuila Momo was over the moon when he was called by coach Osea Kolinisau as a last minute replacement for injured Kaminieli Rasaku and will make his debut at the Mecca of 7s rugby this weekend.

The youngster is relishing his debut at Fiji’s favourite 7s hunting grounds – in So Kon Po but isn’t overly confident as he concedes that the task will be daunting as well.

Momo counts his non-selection to represent his school in the Deans competition a couple of years ago as a blessing as it made him sought some redemption in Rugby League where his talents were noticed, appreciated and nurtured by Rugby League legend Petero Civoniceva.

Momo played soccer for most of his schooling days but admits that his passion for rugby was realised and blossomed at Ratu Navula College in Nadi.

Despite setbacks such as not being selected during the Deans trials for his school, Momo didn’t lose heart.

He switched to rugby league where his skills began to get noticed especially playing under the guidance of Civoniceva.

“I guess from there I realized that I did have a talent for rugby, and it encouraged me to keep pursuing,” he said.

His big break came at the Coral Coast 7s, where his performance caught the eyes of the national 7s selectors.

“Transitioning from club rugby to national training was very new to me and it took a bit of adjusting especially with discipline and diet but I am coping very well,” he said.

At the core of Momo’s story is the strong support from his family, whose sacrifices have been instrumental in his rugby journey.

“The family at home were very happy and that is what makes me happy, seeing them proud of me,”

“My parents have sacrificed a lot for me, for paying my bus fare to and from training and always supporting me financially, this is an answered prayer,” said Momo.

The unexpected call to replace injured rover Kaminieli Rasaku for the Hong Kong 7s was a surprise for Momo.

“The news of my selection to replace Qams (Rasaku) at the Hong Kong 7s came as a surprise because I didn’t expect to be the last-minute change, especially just being new to the squad,” he said.

Simran Chand
Simran Chand
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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