Silktails Sign Former Drua Intern As New Strength & Conditioning Coach

The Kaiviti Silktails RLFC are excited to announce their new Strength & Conditioning Coach that is coming on board for Season 2024 – Mr. Vanavasa Niuqila.

Vanavasa has a background in Rugby Union – working this year with the Fijian Drua as their intern S&C Coach, and the Flying Fijians in preparation for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Upon his appointment as S&C Coach, Vanavasa spoke of how grateful he was to be joining the Silktails Vuvale, and his eagerness for the challenge that switching to Rugby League will bring.

“First of all, I would like to thank the almighty God for giving me this opportunity to be part of this Team… I also want to thank Drua Rugby and Flying Fijians Management for inviting me into this year’s season. I learnt a lot from their S&C team” said Niuqila.

“I am looking forward to working with the only professional Rugby League club in Fiji and to learn a lot about the game and how it works. This is really interesting because I know Rugby League is much more physical than Rugby Union, and is more physically demanding, so the training components need to cater for the game.”

“I am looking forward to working with Coach Wes, and hopefully creating some good memories with the team.”

Silkails Executive Director Stephen Driscoll also spoke of how beneficial Vanavasa will be to the club.

“Having Vanavasa join the Silktails as our S&C Coach is a massive boost for our club. Coming from a Super Rugby Club in the Fijian Drua will ensure he will bring those high standards to our Footy Program. That along with serving his apprenticeship under a world-class High-Performance Coach in Naca Cawanibuka (Gold Medal 7’s S&C and current Fijian Drua & Flying Fijians Head of Performance) was really enticing in recruiting Vanavasa” said Driscoll.

Driscoll, who has an extensive 20-year background as an S&C Coach and has worked with NRL Clubs the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Gold Coast Titans, the Fiji Bati, NSW Origin Team, and is still applying his trade with the Sydney Roosters, was impressed with Niuqila’s desire of going after a new challenge in Rugby League.

“I feel what Vanavasa will bring to our program is a detailed and organised approach to managing our players physical preparation. What he lacks in Rugby League experience definitely evens itself out with his enthusiasm, intelligence and invaluable experience in a professional environment such as the Drua. With our club awaiting on a pending application to move into a NSWRL Major Competition, our local boys will be going up against the big NRL brands over a 24 round season and this opportunity really excited Vanavasa.”

Driscoll spoke of Niuquila’s reaction when he challenged him about delivering a High-Performance Program in an elite overseas Rugby League competition.

“Designing a program with a 16-week pre-season into a 26-week competition phase in a collision sport like Rugby League is experience money can’t buy for a young S&C Coach. This even more so when you’re a young local Indigenous Fijian like Vanavasa is. His eagerness to take that on really impressed myself, Head Coach Wes Naiqama, and our Chairman Petero Civoniceva who sat in on the interview”.

Driscoll also wanted to wish outgoing S&C Coach Rusiate Ratukana all the best as he chases his dream to win gold as part of Fiji’s SPG Rugby League Nines team.

“Big Rusi still has an itch to scratch as a player and successfully gained selection in the national team and as a club we wish him and his team all the very best in the Solomon’s in November.”

Niuaqila has begun planning the season ahead with Head Coach Wes Naiqama, and his time with the Silktails will begin at the clubs weeklong annual Rookie Camp held in conjunction with their partner NRL Club the Sydney Roosters.

Driscoll will work alongside Niuqila for the first time along with Roosters Recruitment and Player Development Manager Dean Feeney, who will work closely with Naiqama starting on November 5 at the clubs newly renovated Centre of Excellence in Lautoka.

Welcome to the Silktails Vuvale, Vanavasa!