Tuqiri among Fijian Drua new signings

The Fijian Drua have signed three more players to their Super Pacific 2023 playing roster including 7s World Cup winner and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Elia Canakaivata.

Joining him are Emosi Tuqiri and Michael Naitokani, all of whom were part of the squad that assembled today for the pre-season at the club’s home base at Legalega Industrial Area, Nadi. 

Fijian Drua CEO Brian Thorburn said the inclusion of, Canakaivata, Tuqiri and Naitokani would add depth to the Club.

“Elia is not new to 15s rugby, although he is rightfully recognised for his success with the Fiji Airways Fijian 7s side,” Thorburn said.

“His versatility will be a huge asset to the team, and he joins our already impressive loose forward stock which features the likes of Ratu Meli Derenalagi, Vilive Miramira, Rusiate Nasove, Kitione Salawa, Joe Tamani and Raikabula Momoedonu.

“Tuqiri has some experience in the Super Rugby environment, as part of the Rebels set-up last year. It’s great to have him join the likes of our front-row group, which includes run-on Flying Fijians like Haereiti Hetet and Drua stars Kaliopasi Uluilakepa, Meli Tuni, and Samuela Tawake.

“Naitokani is a bolter from the local rugby competition and was impressive at the recent Fiji Rugby Invitation Series, where he played an instrumental role as centre in the Fijian Warriors’ winning the tournament.” 

Canakaivata was part of the Fiji 7s extended squad in 2017, under the mentorship of Olympic Gold medallist-winning coach Gareth Baber before switching codes to represent Suva in Fiji’s premier provincial level competition – the Skipper Cup. The 26-year-old got his big break on the international sevens arena in Dubai in November 2021. A naval officer by profession, Canakaivata won tournaments with the 7s team in the World Rugby 7s Series before going on to win silver at the Commonwealth Games. Only last month, he was part of the 7s World Cup winning team in South Africa alongside another Drua recruit, Iosefo Masi. 

Tuqiri, 21, is the cousin of former Australian rugby star winger Lote Tuqiri. He was part of the Queensland Reds Academy and GPS Rugby in Brisbane in 2017. Tuqiri went on to represent Fiji in 2019 for the Under-20 national team, where they won the Rugby Under-20 Trophy in Romania. He played alongside a number of Drua players including Momoedonu, Tuni, Miramira, Tevita Ikanivere, Caleb Muntz, Isoa Nasilasila and Simione Kuruvoli. 

Naitokani, 22, who was part of the Crusaders Academy in 2019, worked his way up from the provincial level in the Skipper Cup competition as centre for Nadroga, before joining the Fijian Warriors in August.

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