Player Spotlight: Naulia Dawai
The Free Jacks are excited to welcome Naulia Dawai to New England for the 2020 Inaugural Season in Major League Rugby. The Fijian-born back row forward joins the Free Jacks with 2 seasons of a wealth of global rugby experience having played for Irish province, Connacht, and New Zealand provincial side, Otago in the Mitre 10 Cup. He was also part of the Asia Pacific Dragons side in the Global Rapid Rugby showcase series earlier in 2019.
Naulia, 6’ 238lbs, grew up in Nadi, Fijij, before moving to New Zealand in 2011. He began his professional rugby career with Southland Rugby, playing for province’s 7’s team before breaking into the 2013 ITM Cup team where he made 9 appearances.
In 2014, Naulia joined Otago. It was in the 2015 season, however, where Naulia solidified his position as a dominant, athletic and bruising back row forward. He became a regular figure in the team and led the squad in tries through the season. In a September 2015 game against Auckland, Naulia scored three tries, becoming only the fourth player in NPC history to score a hat trick at Eden Park. Naulia continued his strong scoring form into the 2016 season with Otago, scoring five tries in the competition.
In June 2016, following his ascendance at the provincial level, Naulia was selected to the Fijian National Team for the 2016 Pacific Nations Cup. He made his debut for Fiji at blindside flanker as a starter in the PNC opener against Tonga. Naulia started a total of three tests during the season against Tonga, Samoa and Georgia. A year later he was again part of the Fijian team that shocked a touring Scotland side 22-27 in 2017. To date Naulia has 8 caps for Fiji.
In 2016 Naulia joined Irish provincial tam Connacht on a two-year deal. He made 22 appearances over two seasons with Connacht before returning New Zealand re-joining Otago in 2018.
“I’m excited to come join the Free Jacks. It’s another challenge, I will do my best and hope to make my family proud,” Naulia commented on the new adventure he is set to take on in New England. “I love this game and it has taken me across the globe and I’ve met and made so many friends I consider to be family. I’m grateful to the New England Free Jacks for giving me this opportunity.”
We are looking forward to seeing what Naulia can do in the 2020 season in Major League Rugby. His experience, physical running, and natural ball handling skills is sure to see him excel in the professional league here in the US.
To catch Naulia in action next year with the rest of the Free Jacks be sure to select your seats for the 2020 season in Major League Rugby while they are still available! Head to foundingmember.freejacks.com or click the tickets link above to get your seats today.