The Swire Shipping Fijian Drua today announced the signing of two Fiji U20 stars in flyhalf Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula and outside back Epeli Waqaicece.
The young duo will join the Drua squad in October in preparation for the 2024 Shop N Save Super Rugby Pacific season.
Both have signed multi-year contracts, declining genuine interest from other professional franchises to forge their careers within the Fijian Drua and Fiji Rugby high performance pathway.
Drua Head Coach Mick Byrne was ecstatic as he welcomed the two onboard: “These are very exciting times for us, to sign players like Isaiah and Epeli who are coming back to Fiji to be part of this journey with the Drua and Fijian Rugby in general.”
“An added bonus is having two players that are best friends opting to play for us. This will give us an opportunity to work with these young players and develop them into professional athletes.”
“I am really looking forward to spending quality time with Isaiah and Waqa to help them grow, while giving them the opportunity to become world class players with the talent and skillset they already have.”
Armstrong-Ravula was hugely impressive as flyhalf for Fiji U20s at the recent World Rugby U20 Championship, where he made the team of the tournament.
He is eligible for Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga, but has chosen to represent the Fijian Drua and make himself available for Fiji where he has connections to Moce, Lau through his father Steve Ravula.
He attended Ipswich State High School in Brisbane and Saint Andrew’s College in Christchurch. And currently plays for Manawatu Turbos in New Zealand’s National Provincial Championship and was also part of the Hurricanes Academy and the Hurricanes Under 20s in recent years.
Meanwhile it’s a homecoming for Nadroga lad Waqaicece.
He has strong roots in Nasama village on the outskirts of Sigatoka town, and is the younger brother of former Flying Fijians, Western Force and Clermont winger Napolioni Nalaga and son of former Flying Fijian Kavekini Nalaga.
Waqaicece is also part of the Manawatu Turbos (NPC) and the Hurricanes U20 Squad. He was the Hurricanes U20s Player of the Year in 2022.
“Full credit goes to our Drua organisation for attracting these players, who had other opportunities to play in New Zealand, Tonga, and Samoa, but chose the Drua.”
“Similar to the young development players who we have progressed into the Fijian Drua Super Rugby Pacific squad and the 18 players we have progressed to the Flying Fijians, we look forward to welcoming these players into our Fijian high performance pathway,” Byrne added.