Rugby Inside Line recently had the opportunity to chat with Northampton Saints and Australia wing, Taqele Naiyaravoro. Before joining the Saints, Taqele played for Glasgow Warriors and Super Rugby Side, Waratahs – where he was part of their 2014 title-winning side.
Rugby Inside Line: What made you choose to move away from Australia to join Northampton Saints?
Taqele Naiyaravoro: It wasn’t an easy decision, but I made the move from Australia because I wanted to challenge myself in Northern Hemisphere rugby. I thought that my international career wasn’t going where I wanted it to, so I wanted to move over.
RIL: Was it difficult to adapt to life in England? If so, what did you struggle with the most?
Taqele Naiyaravoro: No, it wasn’t really difficult, the boys, the club and the supporters made it a lot easier for me to settle in. I guess the only thing I struggled with was the weather, but I’m getting used to it now.
RIL: Was it more difficult relocating to Glasgow or Northampton?
Taqele Naiyaravoro: I guess Glasgow was a bit more challenging as I had a really young family then and I’d only just started getting used to rugby union because I’d always played league, so I guess the Glasgow move was tougher, in terms of adapting to a new lifestyle and weather.
RIL: Having played in the PRO14, English Premiership and Super Rugby competitions, which has been your favourite and why?
Taqele Naiyaravoro: All the competitions that I have played in were huge for me. The main things that stand out are being part of the Waratahs side that won the Super Rugby title in 2014 and playing my 50th game for the Waratahs in Super Rugby, which was a milestone for me and something that I never thought I would have accomplished.
RIL: What are the biggest differences between Super Rugby and Premiership Rugby?
Taqele Naiyaravoro: I guess the style of rugby isn’t that much different because the Premiership clubs are getting better every year. The main difference would be the travelling in Super Rugby – we had to travel around a lot to other countries to play games.
RIL: What can English rugby learn from Super Rugby?
Taqele Naiyaravoro: I don’t think that there is a lot to learn. I think at the level we are at now in Premiership rugby is very similar to Super Rugby. Like I said before, all the teams are getting better and better and it’s pretty much at the same level of intensity and pace.
RIL: Who are the toughest opponents that you have played against since joining Northampton?
Taqele Naiyaravoro: Saracens – they have so many quality players and they play a different type of rugby to other teams.
RIL: How does training and conditioning in England compare to Australia?
Taqele Naiyaravoro: I think the level of professionalism and training is very similar in most accounts. I am not sure about other Premiership clubs, but Northampton has a very similar running, training and conditioning to the Waratahs and something that I have been able to adapt to.
RIL: As someone who grew up playing junior rugby in Fiji, what are the main issues that need to be addressed to provide better opportunities for players?
Taqele Naiyaravoro: The only thing that stands out is exposure and training facilities. As a young player growing up in Fiji, we would use anything as a rugby ball to play with (plastic bottles etc) and we would play in the middle of the road as there weren’t any pitches to play on. There are a lot of future rugby stars in Fiji that are hungry for opportunities and all they need is exposure.
RIL: What were your thoughts on Australia’s Rugby World Cup campaign?
Taqele Naiyaravoro: Honestly, I am proud of the boys. Despite the results, I think other teams were just hungrier and were well equipped heading into the tournament. Nonetheless, Australia did the country and supporters proud.
Photo Credit – Getty Images