18-year-old Baselala awarded full-time playing contract with the Fijian Drua

18-year-old Baselala awarded full-time playing contract with the Fijian Drua

By Navitalai Naivalurua
Tuesday 24/01/2023
[Photo: Fijian Drua]

Former Suva Grammar School Under 18 half-back Philip Baselala and former Queen Victoria School Under 18 prop Livai Natave have been awarded full-time playing contracts, and have been drafted into the main Swire Shipping Fijian Drua squad for the 2023 Shop N Save Super Rugby Pacific.

Both players were previously part of the Drua’s development squad and have been promoted to bolster the main playing squad at half-back and front row.

The progression allows both players to compete for spots in the team’s match-day 23 for this Super Rugby Pacific season.

Drua CEO Mark Evans says the fact that they have already identified players to move from the development group into the main playing squad for two key positions showcases their commitment to their player pathways.

Evans says it is one of the key strategic objectives of their Club to offer capable young Fijian players a clear progression to being professional footballers right here at home.

The announcement is the culmination of a stellar playing year for Baselala.

At just 18 years old, he becomes one of the youngest players to sign a full Super Rugby Pacific contract.

In 2022, Baselala starred as a half-back for Suva Grammar School in Fiji’s Deans competition, as well as Fiji’s U20 and the Fiji Warriors teams.

He has previously played for Fiji Under 18 and his inclusion comes as regular Drua half-back, Simione Kuruvoli is ruled out for most of the season as he recovers from shoulder surgery.

Natave was drafted into the Drua development group after impressing for Suva in the Skipper Cup, Fiji’s premier provincial competition, as well as for the Army Rugby side in the prestigious Sukuna Bowl challenge.

The 24-year-old made his debut for the Flying Fijians in November’s Northern Tour and has earned three caps.

The Fijian Drua will meet the Melbourne Rebels at 3pm Saturday at Prince Charles Park, for its first pre-season trial match.

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