Wednesday, June 18, 2008


FORMER national rugby representative and Nayau villager Alfred Uluinayau (pictured) was always groomed for big things in rugby.
From the young age of primary school playing rugby league in New Zealand to the high school grades where he donned the national All Black jumper as a high school student Alfie was running straight for the goal posts literally a successful streak in rugby.
However, at the back of his mind he was always going to struggle with the glory of playing for his country of birth (Fiji) or his adopted country in New Zealand where rugby is a religion and all men wear or have worn rugby boots at one stage of their life.
The man who was following the footsteps of a number of Fijian All Black players has now become Fiji's first professional club rugby coach to have won a national championship even though it is in the Land of the Rising Sun where the spirit of a man (oto kono tamashi) is to honour your commitments and never retreat or surrender.
He guided the club to win the Japanese Microsoft Cup Top League Competition against Sanyo Wild Knights 14-10 in April this year.
And he has achieved this in only in his first year as coach of the Suntory rugby side that has boasted the likes of former St John Marist and Fiji national sevens and fifteens rep Max Olsson who later represented Japan's national side.
Alfie can proudly say that through those clouds his sun has risen and he has been a man by achieving the top honours in Japanese professional rugby where most international rugby players go to earn their Yen.
Alfie says he is completing his International Rugby Board Level 3 accreditation with the Blues Franchise in New Zealand.
Uluinayau played his last club game for the Ponsonby Rugby Club in 2004, becoming the 15th player in the clubs history to play 100 games. He played 104 games.
He started playing rugby league at 8 years of age in New Zealand untill the age of 12.
He started playing rugby at Mount Albert Grammar School at 13 where he immediately made his first Auckland representative team.
He played every Auckland representative age group team right through to the Auckland NPC and Super 10 team.
He made the Blues squad in 1996 with Waisake Sotutu, but missed the rest of the Super 12 season due to a knee injury.
He made his debut for Fiji against South Africa in 1996.
Uluinayau joined Suntory and Max Olsson after the 1996 Super 12 season.
After retiring from Suntory after the 2003 rugby season Uluinayau went back home to New Zealand and began work as the director of rugby at his old high school, Mount Albert Grammar School.
"The role involved developing player recruitment and retention at the school and also setting up a program to improve the skill levels and understanding of the gameof every rugby student at the school from 13 years to 18," he said.
"I was also the 1st XV coach.I also set up a scholarship program to invite Fijian students to come to MAGS to continue their education and develop their rugby skills.
"The first recipient of the scholarship was Ratu Ropate Rinakama who has now earned a academy contract with the North Harbour Rugby Union as a tight head prop.
"I am still involved in the scholarship program at MAGS.Alama Iermia resigned as backs coach from Suntory last season and notified me of the vacancy and the process of getting me to Suntory began.
"My previous association with the club made the process very easy and I signed as the assistant coach and was in Japan by mid-May.
"I am happy to be the first native Fijian to win a professional championship overseas winning the Japanese Microsoft Cup Top League Competition against Sanyo Wild Knights 14-10."
Alfie says coaching in Japan has many benefits including wages, bonuses, fully furnished housing, travelling allowance and other agreed incentives bonuses.