Fiji Bati player’s name cited in Australian defamation case

An Australian sports presenter who allegedly broke into song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” while discussing the name of a Fiji Bati player denies allegations of racism in a defamation case filed before the Australian Federal Court.

 According to Australian media, radio and television presenter Erin Molan filed a defamation suit against Daily Mail Australia over a report, published early this year, she insists portrayed her as a racist. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that in an article in June, Daily Mail accused her of mocking Pacific island names, including that of Fiji Bati prop Ben Nakubuwai, on The Continuous Call Team radio show.

 In their defence, Daily Mail Australia cited instances dating back to 2017, in which it claims hosts of the show made racist remarks.  In Nakubuwai’s case, that reportedly took place in August 2017, documents submitted in court showed that Molan started singing “awimbawe” when they began talking about the Fiji Bati prop’s name.

 Court documents available online showed that the two parties would seek mediation to take place on or before 18 December 2020. Failure of which will result in a hearing, which has been listed to start on 30 August 2021. In the lead up to the hearing, the matter will be called for management hearing on 19 February 2021.

 The son of former Fiji dual international Pio Nakubuwai, 24-year-old Ben earned his first Test cap for Fiji in 2016 against Papua New Guinea.  He has earned 10 Test caps since. At 21, he was part of the Fiji Bati team to the 2017 World Cup where he scored a try in the 72-6 win over Wales. He also featured in the Bati’s two successful outings last year – 44-18 against Samoa and scored one of the four tries in their 22-20 win over Papua New Guinea.  Nakubuwai also played for the Gold Coast Titans in the 2017 National Rugby League, and Salford in the 2018/2019 English Super League.

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