Naqelevuki loving time at Chiefs
25 May, 2011
|Sireli Naqelevuki loving being a Chief. |
Sireli Naqelevuki insists his first year in English rugby has already allowed him to add new skills to his game - and he hopes to add even more when the Chiefs return to Aviva Premiership action again in a few months.
Brought to Devon in late September from Super Rugby franchise the Stormers, the big back has wasted little time in establishing himself as a key weapon within the Chiefs attacking arsenal.
The 30-year-old featured 18 times last season for Rob Baxter's side, scoring five tries in the process. And one of those touchdowns - his effort in the home game against Northampton - will be among six shortlisted at Wednesday's RPA Annual Awards night in London.
"It has been a really good season for me and for the Chiefs," said Naqelevuki ahead of his trip to the capital.
"We've had some good wins, especially against the likes of Saracens, Northampton and Wasps, and we've had some really good performances as well.
"Playing in the Premiership is a good challenge and one which I've really enjoyed. It's hard and it's physical and there isn't so much room as when I was playing in South Africa, but I definitely think I've added new things to my game since I came to Exeter.
"Moving position from wing to centre, I definitely get a lot more ball carries and I'm involved a lot more in the game, which is good. Also my defending has improved a lot as well because you need to be strong in the middle."
Naqelevuki has praised the input he has already received from the Exeter coaching staff, but says that with a full pre-season behind him he will return next season even stronger.
"I'm looking forward to working with the coaches again," he said.
"Ali [Hepher] and Ricky [Pellow] have done a lot of work with me this year, but I think next season will be even better because I will know a lot more and I will be here right from the start of the season."
Although Naqelevuki is a little self-critical in the fact that it may have taken him a few weeks to get totally up to speed in terms of the English game, the tail-end of the campaign certainly saw Premiership defences see his talents.
"I felt more and more comfortable as the season went on," said Naqelevuki.
"The boys here are awesome. Everyone helps each other out, both on and off the field, and I feel very settled here.
"The team you could see were getting better and better as the season went on. Our forwards are very good, they're strong, they're mobile and they work hard for each other. As a back it's nice to play behind a pack that works so hard." Article courtesy of planetrugby.com