He’s not your average Rugby League star but Ratu Naulago is really making waves in Super League since his debut for Airlie Birds in their first win of 2019 away at Wigan.
The Fijian winger has now scored seven tries in his ten Super League appearances after last night’s double against Castleford Tigers but he’s still under the employment of the British Army and even lives in the base.
“When I was 18 I left my house back in Fiji to join the Army,” Naulago said.
“My dad wanted me to join the Army as there’s a bit of history between the Fijians and part of the Commonwealth and the British Army.
“I flew over from Fiji in January 2009 and came to join the Army about 2011.
“I’m in my eighth year now and I’ve signed for 12 years.
“I still live on the base at the moment in Leconfield but my unit is based down in Warminster.”
Naualago was a complete unknown in Rugby League circles heading into 2019 but is now one of the most talked about players in the competition but the former Saracens 7s player had to go through a trial period with Hull before his dream came true when Lee Radford, Hull FC head coach, offered him a one-year deal with the club and handed him his debut at the DW Stadium.
“Opportunities come once in a lifetime so as soon as I got the opportunity from Radders (Lee Radford) I knew this was mine so I showed him I’d grab it.
“I didn’t know that Radders was going to pick me (against Wigan). I was a bit emotional and there was a bit of butterflies in there as well. I just tried to think this is a normal game.
“Once I got my first try I could feel the confidence with the help of the experienced players in the team I gained my confidence and every other game now is just a normal game.”
Naulago is trained as a mortarman in the first battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment and knows that his training with the army has stood him in good stead when it comes to the rigours of Super League.
“They try and make you learn discipline and knowing what to do at the right time, to be at the right place, and applying that in training helps me a lot.
With such great try-scoring form, his national side will be keeping tabs on Naulago’s progress and the winger would jump at the chance to represent them, as long as the Army approves it!
“I’d just take any call. If it came – and the Army approved it as they are still my main employer – then I’d go for it. It’d be a good experience for me to be called up by that team.”
But for now, Naulago and Hull have their sights firmly set on success in both the Super League and the Challenge Cup and gaining such much-needed consistency.