Wallabies rookie Filipo Daugunu’s rise from police officer to taking up All Blacks


He might have continued to be a police officer, turn out to be a sevens participant for Fiji, or perhaps a soccer worldwide however, as a substitute, is about to expire at Eden Park as Australia’s now not-so-secret weapon after turning down a $2million abroad supply to pursue his dream of donning a gold jersey.

‘‘I consider in every of the boys that we are able to beat New Zealand,’’ Daugunu says from Auckland. ‘‘I consider nothing is unimaginable. In case you consider and work exhausting, we are able to do it.’’

Wallabies debutant Filipo Daugunu goes over for a try against New Zealand.

Wallabies debutant Filipo Daugunu goes over for a strive in opposition to New Zealand.Credit score:Getty

4 years in the past, then Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was in a rebuild part. He blooded three debutants – Dane Haylett-Petty, Samu Kerevi and Rory Arnold – for the primary Check in opposition to England in 2016. At about the identical time, Daugunu was a police officer in Fiji with two failed Australian visa purposes threatening his possibilities of making a profession in rugby.

Daugunu’s journey from the city of Labasa to the worldwide enviornment is definitely the street much less travelled. ‘‘Lipo’’, as his family and friends name him, misplaced his mom as a result of kidney issues when he was a seven-year-old and moved in his with aunty and uncle. He performed quite a lot of sports activities as a child, however excelled at soccer and rugby, in addition to the excessive soar.

Daugunu was an agile goalkeeper who represented Fiji’s youth groups and his boot, maybe under-utilised, has even been seen by Rennie, who mentioned not too long ago: ‘‘Filipo is a pure kicker of the ball’’.

The story goes that after Reds coaching a number of years again, an impromptu penalty shootout passed off below the objective posts at Ballymore. Nobody knew Daugunu’s soccer background – he toured New Zealand in 2011 with Fiji’s under-17s earlier than being chosen for the under-23s – however, for no matter cause, he was tossed in objective and turned a number of heads by saving each kick.

‘I considered staying for a short time, however my aunty mentioned I ought to go. The following day I went to the police headquarters to inform them to launch me.’

Filipo Daugnanu

However rugby was his love and in his blood: his grandfather, Esira, represented Fiji within the 1970s and his uncle, Sailosi Naiteqe, ran out in six Checks for his nation.

Daugunu spent six months coaching to be a police officer however two weeks into the job, on an evening shift, he acquired some sudden information.

‘‘I used to be going to strive yet another time [for a visa to come to Australia] and some weeks later my aunty mentioned the visa had been authorised,’’ he says. ‘‘I advised my aunty I’m leaving and gained’t be a police officer once more. The police wished me to work for one 12 months after which I might go.

“I considered staying for a short time, however my aunty mentioned I ought to go. The following day I went to the police headquarters to inform them to launch me. I gave them every part I had. I truly missed my flight to Australia.’’

Filipo Daugunu impressed in his first appearance for the Wallabies last Sunday.

Filipo Daugunu impressed in his first look for the Wallabies final Sunday.Credit score:Getty

Daugunu says Fiji didn’t wish to launch him from its sevens program, however he’d made up his thoughts Wallabies jersey was what he wished. He arrived at Wests Bulldogs in Brisbane forward of the Queensland Premier Rugby season hoping to earn a contract with the Reds.

‘‘In 2017 I went to a Reds recreation at Suncorp Stadium and advised myself that in 2018 I’d be enjoying at Suncorp,’’ Daugunu says. ‘‘I did it the subsequent 12 months.’’

In Daugunu’s first 12 months at Wests he carved up the competitors, scoring 11 tries in 13 video games because the Bulldogs performed finals for the primary time in 10 years. Within the Nationwide Rugby Championship that 12 months, Daugunu was the main try-scorer and bagged a hat-trick for Queensland Nation in a grand remaining win in Canberra.

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His Tremendous Rugby debut got here in 2018, however he wasn’t eligible to play for the Wallabies till December final 12 months, when he signed a take care of the Reds and Rugby Australia till the tip of 2023. A 3-year, $2 million supply was on the desk to jet to Japan, however Daugunu wished to do his household proud and play for the Wallabies.

Tuqiri is glad Daugunu made his approach to Australia, describing his debut as ‘‘sensational’’. ‘‘His footwork in tight areas to poke his head by way of is invaluable in opposition to the All Blacks,’’ he mentioned. ‘‘It’s an incredible story.’’

Daugunu’s household will probably be watching immediately, bursting with satisfaction. ‘‘After the sport [last Sunday] they despatched me a video and it was a full home – folks within the kitchen, some watching outdoors,’’ he says. ‘‘They had been blissful and cheering for Australia.”

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