Fiji-born Chiefs loose forward Pita Gus Sowakula still harbours hopes to feature for the All Blacks at next year’s Rugby World Cup in France.
Despite making his Test debut for All Blacks against Ireland in July, Sowakula was dropped from the Rugby Championship, end-of-year internationals in November and also missed out on selection for their two-game tour of the United Kingdom.
The Clermont Auvergne bound believes the World Cup isn’t completely out of his reach – provided he can deliver some strong performances for the Chiefs in the upcoming Super Rugby Pacific season.
“They’ve just been telling me to keep working hard and try and get back next season and play my best footy,” Sowakula said of his Chiefs coaches at a media briefing on Tuesday.
“I’m still waiting for that World Cup.”
“[I’ve got to] probably just lift up my game to another level. It’s my last season for me, just bring my A-game, that’s all.”
The 28-year-old also revealed that whatever had unfolded with the national side this year, the intention was always to head offshore following the 2023 World Cup, with partner Toka Natua signing with the Clermont women’s side.
“It’s mainly to take my family over and explore France, really, and see what life’s like there, that’s the main motivation, and also experience French rugby,” he said.
“I just took this [deal] because it had a women’s team, too, so we’ll play in the same team, which will be pretty cool, an experience for us.”
Sowakula noted that there was always the possibility of running out for his native Fiji in three years’ time.
“I think it’s all part of it, eh? Being not in the squad,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’m let down or anything. I’m fine with it.”
Sowakula will play for the Chiefs during Super Rugby Pacific then link up with Taranaki for the NPC, before heading for France late in 2023.