By the Standards of Modern Rugby – Nadolo is a Giant

At the age of just 12 he stood 6ft tall and weighed 13 stone. He has grown a bit since then.

Today, Nemani Nadolo, 6ft 5in tall, tips the scales at more than 20 stone. His feet are so broad that he cannot lace up his team-issue size 15 trainers.

Nadolo eats five poached eggs for breakfast, five mackerels for lunch and a whole chicken or half a kilo of steak for supper, washed down with soup.

Even by the standards of modern rugby, Nadolo is a giant albeit a very fast one out to derail England’s hopes of winning the 2015 World Cup on home soil.

On Friday night, Nadolo, a polite, softly spoken and devout Christian, will terrify the living daylights out of England in the competition’s opening match, watched by 90,000 inside Twickenham and some billions of television viewers worldwide.

Already a star down under, Nadolo has been the leading try scorer over the past two years in the Super 12s, the club competition played by the best teams in the southern hemisphere. Friday will, if all goes to plan, elevate him to worldwide sporting celebrity.

Today, the Fijian and the rest of his team-mates will go to church in London and pray for victory. Whoever is the England winger picked to play opposite Nadolo will simply be praying he doesn’t come running at him full pelt.

Nadolo is the embodiment of the changing face – or rather physique – of rugby. Official statistics show players now weigh on average eight per cent more than since 1995, when rugby union became a professional sport.

“I have always been a big lad growing up,” said Nadolo last week at Team Fiji’s base in Walton-on-Thames, eight miles from Twickenham, adding: “I have probably got a bit more size now.”

To put it in perspective, Jonah Lomu, who famously demolished England in the 1995 World Cup semi-final, scoring four tries, weighed almost two stones less than Nadolo, who is every bit as quick. Nadolo’s sprint times are kept a top secret, but he is said to run the 100 metres in about 10.8 seconds. That’s only a second slower than Usain Bolt, the world record holder.

Nemani Nadolo  Photo: Paul Grover

“My first instinct is to run over the man. I have to use my size. That has been my advantage over the past few years,” he said.

His father played professional rugby in Australia, which is why Nadolo grew up there rather than in Fiji. In fact, he only became a Fijian citizen a fortnight ago before the squad left for the UK.

“On my mum’s side we are just very big people,” he said. “My dad’s side is leaner, smaller and quicker. That’s where the speed comes from. Whereas I have got the big bulk from my mother’s side.”

As a young player, he had an unhappy five-month spell playing for Exeter. He was convicted of drink driving in May 2011 and left the club by mutual consent the next day.

He was 23 at the time and admits he missed his mum Bale’s steadying influence. “I was young and naive and away from family and you do some stupid things and you learn from it,” he said.

Now 27, he has also played in France and Japan before joining Crusaders, the Christchurch, New Zealand, side which has been the making of him. “A lot of people have tried in the past to mould me into something I’m not. Now I’m blessed to be coached by people who don’t do that,” he said.

At the end of the interview, The Sunday Telegraph was curious to see just how strong Nadolo is. This reporter is 6ft 2in tall and weighs a little over 13 stones. Nadolo took one look and lifted me as a father would a small child. He is a strong fellow all right. Just how strong England will discover on Friday.

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About Michael Faga

One thought on “By the Standards of Modern Rugby – Nadolo is a Giant

  1. Hope the fijians give the english a good run for their money…..pacific island teams have always been seen as second class competitors.

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