I just want to make Fiji and my family proud

In the first of a series of columns, Frank Lomani talks about dedication, sushi and the life-changing project that on Saturday will see him run out as Fiji scrum-half in a Rugby World Cup at the age of 23.

TOKYO, 19 Sep - The boys are excited and looking forward to a strong challenge against the Wallabies on Saturday. We are looking good, we have been putting our bodies on the line for the game. We can’t predict what will happen but what we can do is be better than the last World Cup and improve on the mistakes we made there. I have watched Australia on TV and they look good. They are strong in defence and attack, where they keep the ball as much as they can, and from there they score tries.

We have settled in well in Japan. The people here are very friendly and another good thing is the food is so nice! I like the sashimi and the sushi very much, and gyoza too. And the weather has been like back home in Fiji, nice and warm.

I’d played for Fiji before, but it’s fair to say that World Rugby’s Pacific Combine initiative has helped me a lot. Not only on the field but off the field as well. It has taught me to be a good sportsman. It helped me become a professional rugby player, to understand that you can be professional even playing in Fiji, you don’t always have to go overseas. It is more about the way you do things, the way you use your time. The little details. It has changed my life. It has transformed my skills too.


Before my passing was not that good, and my skills were not so good. They were not really at a level to be playing in international games like this. What the Pacific Combine taught me is that if I use my time wisely, my individual skills can drive the team forward.

The Fijian Drua team is made up of local boys and it opened up a lot of opportunities for us, especially in Australia where some of the boys got contracted after the first year. And then last year, when we won the National Rugby Championship in Australia, we knew that our local boys have the potential to go up against players who play in Super Rugby. Before we joined the NRC we doubted ourselves, that we could achieve anything, we saw ourselves down low. But as soon as we won that title we understood that there is nothing that is impossible. If the Fijians who are playing in the UK or France can make it to be the top stars over there, we know they all grew up in Fiji so we know we have that potential too. 

Now the doors are open for us and we don’t need to go directly overseas. Rugby is not all about money. It’s important because you have to provide for your family, but as a player starting up this was a great opportunity. I told my manager I wanted to stay in Fiji until the World Cup, and if there was any opportunity after that I could take it. This allowed me to stay focused. And I have just signed for Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby, which I am really looking forward to. That probably would never have happened without the combine.

The Tier 2 nations have improved so much. Now, beating a Tier 1 nation does not seem impossible. I think that at this Rugby World Cup there could be a lot of upsets. Look at Japan, how they are coming up. All the smaller teams are getting stronger every year. Everybody is watching and sensing there could be upsets here in Japan.

World Rugby have been giving Tier 2 players more chances to earn test caps, and that is how we improve. That’s how we can become better. We are getting more test matches and look at the progress we are making. I think if there are more such opportunities, you will see even more improvement.

Here in Japan I am going to try to be the best possible version of myself. I will be competing with the best half-backs in the world and I will try to be myself and make the people of Fiji and my family proud. But without God I cannot achieve anything – he is the source of my strength.

Frank Lomani is one of 95 players to have come through World Rugby's Pacific Island and North America combines, 15 of whom have won selection for Rugby World Cup 2019.

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