Elite Prospects

Nawaqanitawase backs himself to continue rapid rise

While Nawaqanitawase, 22, is not buying the hype, he has made major gains in the gym. It’s helped his defence, which was very suspect in Super Rugby seasons gone by.

When asked if he was surprised by his sensational debut international season, he replied: “I know what I can do. I’m just lucky I have people who can help me express myself and put myself in the right positions to make me play the way I do.

“They say to us you’re playing the best in the world. There’s no reason why I can’t show them why I should be there. There’s definitely … confidence I can go out there and prove everyone wrong.

“Mate, I’m lost for words. I’m still trying to get used to it. I guess once I get back home, I’ll sit back and look at it. I’m speechless. I don’t even know what to say or think about it. It’s been a crazy, crazy year.”

A humble young man with Fijian heritage, Nawaqanitawase lives with his grandparents in Sydney.

They were in the stands in Cardiff, overcome with emotion while watching their grandson help orchestrate a famous Wallabies win.

But like many others maternal figures, Nawaqanitawase’s grandmother was more worried about something else than Australia’s 21-point deficit midway through the second half.

“My grandmother is not one [who likes] the physical game. She’s more glad I made it out safely,” Nawaqanitawase said.

Mark Nawaqanitawase crosses for the Tahs.

Mark Nawaqanitawase crosses for the Tahs.Credit:Getty

“I’m a bit of a family man. I’ve got a close relationship with them, so it’s very special to have them here witness that.

“My grandparents were shedding a few tears there. It was a special moment. I’m just happy I can keep them happy. To see that makes me want to keep doing it.”


Considering he wasn’t picked by the Waratahs for pre-season matches, he’s come a long way.

He’s a lock to line up for NSW in their Super Rugby opener against the Brumbies at Allianz Stadium on February 24.

As for a maiden World Cup campaign, there will be a lot of buzz about Nawaqanitawase in the new year.

He’s just taking it all in his stride.

“I haven’t really thought that far,” Nawaqanitawase said.

“I’m just excited to get back home and have a bit of a rest. I guess that kind of stuff [World Cup discussion] comes next year once Super comes around. I’m just looking forward to getting home and getting a break.”

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