The Drua should be just the tip of the iceberg

Simon Douch Roar Guru

By , Simon Douch is a Roar Guru

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    As the National Rugby Competition kicked off its fourth season, there was one main storyline: the Fijian Drua. Three rounds in, it’s clear we need more teams from the islands.

    The Drua have enjoyed a successful introduction to the comp, bar one unfortunate biting mishap in the first round.

    They have won two of their three games and have fans grinning from ear to ear. They are big, hard-hitting, raw and exciting – the epitome of what Australian fans are missing.

    What athletes they are!

    It’s quite incredible to see the fabled Fijian style of play up against a clinical Australian club side. Take their latest match, against the New South Wales Country Eagles, it was their first home game and in front of an impressive crowd at Lawaqa Park, the Drua put on a show of true entertainment value.

    Backing up Geoff Parkes’ article about the Wallabies’ performance on the weekend, the Drua hold the elusive x-factor that is entertaining, exciting and bringing fans to the game.

    The Drua hit hard in defence (and attack), they threw the ball around, they created opportunities and plenty of space out wide, and the result was a masterclass of improvised, running and attacking rugby.

    On one play, the Fijians were camped well inside their half. They slickly got the ball to the edge and through strong running, several sets of hands, offloads and interplay, halfback Frank Lomani crossed over for a spectacular try – creating havoc in the grandstands.

    The Eagles, to their credit, held onto the game as long as they could, but in the end, they were outmuscled and out skilled, a rare double blow that only a Fijian opposition can muster.

    I’ll bet my house that there will be another bumper crowd at this weekend’s home game against the Perth Spirit, because Geoff’s theory is absolutely right: there is plenty of exciting rugby to come.

    Luckily enough for us, we get to watch our local heroes go up against the Drua, in our own backyards no less!

    It’s an outstanding move by the ARU, however with the early successes of the Drua, they should go further and establish multiple teams from Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Samoa.

    Fiji Drua vs Melbourne Rising

    (Image: Kevin Juggins)

    There is such a strong feeling of pride evident as the men from Fiji run onto the field, which is being emulated by their fans. Teams based in Papua New Guinea, Tonga or Samoa would replicate this strong culture, resulting in some outstanding rugby.

    Perhaps this idea will step on the toes of Andrew Forrest’s new Indo Pac plan, but while the details of his competition remain relatively scarce, it’s nice to remain optimistic.

    The beautiful thing about this type of expansion is that it will have great benefit to our club players and those on the cusp of earning a Wallabies call-up.

    Imagine Tom Banks or Bill Meakes called into the Wallabies squad after a few tough hit-outs against livewire, international opposition. It would be another lesson in their rugby education. Battle-hardened in a tough NRC arena, they would offer something of substance, rather than pose such a big weakness due to lack of experience.

    This expansion could then fuel the talks for a new Super Rugby franchise based somewhere in that area, which would be an incredible development for rugby in the Southern Hemisphere.

    Admittedly, it’s an idealised world that I live in, far from the issues of money and rugby politics that generally confuses and angers most fans.

    But there is an opportunity to strengthen the NRC and it should definitely be taken, especially on the back of the success of the Drua.