|Nickname||black beast 'Naps', 'the new Lomu', 'animal the pillow|
7 April 1986 |
|Height||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight||105 kg (16.5 st; 231 lb)|
|Position||Wing, Flanker, Centre|
|As of 23 December 2014|
Napolioni Vonowale Nalaga (born 7 April 1986) is a Fijian rugby union footballer. He plays as a wing, flanker and Centre. He is nicknamed Napoleon or Naps or Napo. His father, Kavekini Nalaga also represented Fiji in the 80's and just like his son, he played on the wing.
Born in Sigatoka, Fiji, Nalaga first played as a wing for the Fiji Under 19 team to the Under 19 Rugby World Championship where he notched 7 tries in 3 games for the Fiji team. He also helped his Nadroga team win the U21 competition in the Sanyo Cup for 2 years in a row. He was later selected to play for the Fiji U21 team to the 2006 Under 21 Rugby World Championship in France where Fiji finished 9th overall. He played as a Centre in the tournament. He also made his mark for the Nadroga senior team playing in the Sanyo Cup and the Farebrother Sullivan cup. He was selected into the Fiji sevens team by the then coach Waisale Serevi who was impressed with the youngster for the first leg of the 2006–07 IRB Sevens World Series.
On 11th July 2014, he married his Longtime sweetheart Neomai Baleisuva at his hometown and village Nasama in Sigatoka, the mother of his two kids.
After his first season with the Fiji sevens team, he was given a contract to play for the ASM Clermont Auvergne in the 2007/2008 season alongside other Fijians, Vilimoni Delasau and Seremaia Bai where he finished the season as the leading try-scorer in the competition with 16 tries, 3 better than the previous year, top-try scorer, and captain, Aurélien Rougerie.
In 2008 he was selected in the Pacific Islanders 2008 tour to Britain and Ireland. He was selected to play against France on 15 November 2008 where he made a late, high tackle that resulted in a serious injury to French scrum-half, Jean-Baptiste Elissalde and was subsequently given a red card and expelled from the game. He was banned by the IRB judiciary for 22 days. He made a comeback for Clermont on 13 December in the Heineken Cup against Munster after his ban expired. and is the top try-scorer in the Top 14 with 13 tries. He has also been selected to be part of the Fiji sevens team to the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai. He ended the 2008–09 Top 14 season as the top try scorer scoring 20 tries in 19 appearances breaking the record he set last year by 2 tries. In October 2009, he was named the French Top 14 player of the year for the 2008/2009 season and was also included in the French Dream team, the last Fijian to win that award was Rupeni Caucau in 2006
In Early 2011, he did not return to his club for the second half of the Top 14 due to some family issues surrounding his wedding. He was given time to return to the club but in March 2011, his contract with Clermont was terminated as Nalaga was unable to guarantee if he would return to France or not.
After being unheard for in months, he was spotted at a local rugby tournament in Fiji in May 2011 for Nadroga in the Digicel Cup. His prowess and form saw him getting a call-up to the Fiji national team to prepare for the 2011 IRB Pacific Nations Cup. After passing the trials, he was included in the expanded Fiji team to prepare for the PNC and the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He ended up with just one try at the Rugby World Cup, just like his father in the 1987 RWC.
In September 2011, he signed a one-year contract with Australian Super rugby side, Western Force for the 2012 Super Rugby season. He finished the Super rugby season with 2 tries in 11 appearances.
Move back to Clermont
In 13 April 2013, Nalaga had played 25 games for Clermont in both the 2012–13 Top 14 season and the 2012–13 Heineken Cup leading the try-scoring tally in both with 13 and 6 tries respectively. Since his return, he has scored 19 tries in 25 games taking his overall tally to 80 tries in 115 games for Clermont.
On 27 April, Nalaga's solo try in the Heineken Cup semi-final against Munster helped his team reach the Grand Final of the Heineken Cup where he scored a try but it wasn't enough to defeat the new champion, Toulon. He ended the tournament with 8 tries scoring 5 tries in pool play and a try each in the quarter final, semi final and the grand final.
In December 2013, he scored a try in 18 seconds in the 2013–14 Heineken Cup making it the fastest try ever in the 1844 match, 18-year history of the Heineken Cup. He finished the season with 5 tries and is the 10th most highest try scorer in Heineken Cup history with 23 tries.
- Nalaga to give it his all for Fiji
- A chip off the old block
- Nalaga banned for 22 days
- Preview: Munster v Clermont
- Watch him fly, Nalaga scores hat-trick enroute to Dubai
- Top 14 Wrap: Round 26
- Former Nadroga flyer bags 21 tries to be crowned ... France's best
- Sports - Napolioni Nalaga, un rugbyman bloqué aux îles Fidji par le poids des traditions - France 24
- Clermont terminate Nalaga's contract
- Force's 'new Lomu' cuts out Sonny Bill Williams
- Nalaga signs three-year contract to return to former club
- "Nalaga try is Heineken Cup's fastest : News - Heineken Cup - ERC - Official Website". Retrieved 2014-01-17.
- "North leading the great Euro try rush". ERC Rugby. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
- "Top 14: Toulon sign Ma'a Nonu and Napolioni Nalaga - Live Rugby News - ESPN Scrum". Retrieved 2014-12-23.