HE’S been likened to a T-Rex with speed, and is so big he routinely switches between the forwards and backs.
Meet Taqele Naiyaravoro, the man-mountain Fijian poised to join the Waratahs for the rest of the 2014 Super Rugby season.
Naiyaravoro is set to sign with the Tahs as early as Thursday after being released from the Wests Tigers yesterday to return to rugby, the code he grew up playing in Suva.
The 23-year-old came to Australia, via New Zealand, in 2011 after being recruited to play for the Tigers’ under-20 side. But despite a strong season in NSW Cup last year, he never cracked the NRL.
Naiyaravoro — who has Jonah Lomu-like dimensions of 120kg and 194cm — played for the NSW Cup residents team last year and was so highly rated he was called “another T-Rex (Tony Williams) but faster” by a Tigers trainer in one report.
Given his unusual mix of size and speed, Naiyaravoro played as a second-rower and as a centre/wing for the Tigers, and for Fiji in the World Cup last year. Naiyaravoro was picked again in the Bati squad this week to play Samoa but his decision to switch codes meant he was released from the team.
The Waratahs, who began talks with Naiyaravoro last year, are set to bring him into the squad as a winger.
Meanwhile, the Waratahs are expected to make a public show of support for coach Michael Cheika in coming days after a scathing judgment was issued against him in a SANZAR disciplinary matter on Tuesday night.
Cheika was found guilty of abusing a cameraman in South Africa last month, and was fined $ 6000 and handed a suspended six-month ban. Should he be found guilty of misconduct again before August 31, 2015, he will be stood down from all rugby for six months.
SANZAR judicial officer Nigel Hampton said he took into account Cheika’s history of “foul and abusive” language to match officials, and said he found Cheika’s evidence “unconvincing”. He also found that Cheika’s contrition was “balanced by inappropriate accusations made on his behalf that witnesses fabricated evidence”.