Victorian stalwart Maciu Nabolakasi named on Rebels bench to tackle Reds

Thu, Mar 14, 2024, 3:24 AM
Rugby Vic Media
by Rugby Vic Media

Earning the right to train with the Melbourne Rebels this preseason courtesy of hard work and dedication to his craft, Nabolakasi will look to take the next step in his rugby career donning jersey 20 in Rebels Round 4 clash with the Reds.

First lacing up his boots in Victoria with Southern Districts in 2016, Nabolakasi became a dual-Dewar Shield Premiership player two years later with the Melbourne Unicorns in 2018 and 2019 before earning a call-up to the 2019 Melbourne Rising squad in the NRC.

Maciu Nabolakasi of the Melbourne Unicorns

Applying his trade as Captain of Footscray’s First XV and the Victorian Axemen in 2023, Nabolakasi’s perseverance saw him punch his ticket to Japan last October as part of the Melbourne Rebels Osaka Tour Squad, crossing the white stripe for a try against Hanazono Kintetsu Liners in his first Rebels hit-out.

Speaking on the opportunity for a potential debut this Friday night, Nabolakasi said he’s excited for the prospect of running out onto AAMI Park - something he’s been working towards achieving.

“To play at this level has been my ultimate goal,” he said.

“Coach (Foote) told me to get physical, maintain consistency in my contact, concentrate on rucks and everything after that will come naturally.”

Nabolakasi first entered the sights of the Rebels following the 2023 Dewar Shield season, training for the Victorian Axemen taking part in the Australian Rugby Shield. 

“We had the Victorian Axemen training at Box Hill last year and all the Rebels coaches were in attendance – that’s where they first spotted me,” he said.

“Everything after that has just been a whirlwind – going to Japan as part of the Rebels squad to joining the squad for an entire preseason.

“Opportunities like this can happen for Victorian players – you don’t have to go interstate to promote yourself.

“If you play here and are willing to work hard, one day you will have that opportunity and when that opportunity does come knocking, you just have to be ready.”

On his biggest influences to date, Nabolakasi said current Footscray First XV Coach Tumai Edwards has been instrumental.

“Coach Tumai (Edwards) has been here since the moment I arrived in Australia,” he said.

“Going through State 7s teams, Victorian 7s to my years with the Unicorns and even transitioning to Shute Shield and coming back to play at Footscray last year, he has helped me immensely.”

Speaking on Nabolakasi’s potential debut, Tumai Edwards said Maciu is a very humble guy with a big cheesy smile.

“I’ve coached Maciu close to 8 years now, he’s a special player,” Edwards said.

“Right from the beginning he’s always had the traits of a leader and all his teammates respect him. He prepares his body like a professional athlete and it was a matter of time this opportunity would happen.”

Maciu Nabolakasi - 2023 VAILO Dewar Shield

Nabolakasi’s roots in the Victorian Rugby community run deep, with many expected to turn out to support.

“We will all be hoping he gets some good game time, showcasing the standard of rugby our players are capable of here in Melbourne,” Edwards said.

On behalf of Rugby Victoria, the Melbourne Rebels and Victorian Rugby community, we wish Maciu Nabolakasi all the best for his potential debut! 

Head to AAMI Park this Friday night to catch the Melbourne Rebels take on the Queensland Reds from 7:35PM.

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