Jump to main content


Connacht Sign Fijian Back Rower Dawai

Connacht Sign Fijian Back Rower Dawai

Connacht Rugby and the IRFU have today announced the signing of Fijian-born back rower Naulia Dawai on a two-year deal.

The 29-year-old, who joins Connacht on the back of three seasons with NPC side Otago in New Zealand, was capped for Fiji in June 2016, starting three Tests against Tonga, Samoa and Georgia.

Born in Fiji, Naulia Dawai moved to New Zealand in 2011 to play club rugby with Southland. He played Sevens with the provincial side before breaking into the 2013 ITM Cup team where he made nine appearances.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

A year later, he moved to Otago and emerged as a regular in the 2015 ITM Cup campaign. In September 2015, Dawai scored three tries against Auckland, becoming only the fourth player in NPC history to score a hat-trick at Eden Park.

Commenting on the westerners’ latest player signing, Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane said: “We’re pleased to welcome Naulia to Connacht Rugby and believe that he has the talent and determination to add to our squad in what is an exciting season for us.”

Connacht head coach Pat Lam added: “Naulia is an exciting addition to the Connacht Rugby squad as he brings X-factor to our hard-working forward pack. He can play across the back row, which is a great boost to our options up front and also provides vital depth and competition in those positions.

“We were really impressed with the rugby Naulia’s been playing in the NPC and also with the Fiji national side during the summer. When Otago head coach and good friend Cory Brown (a former coach at Connacht) confirmed to me Naulia’s work ethic and ability on and off the field, we were very pleased to secure him for Connacht Rugby.

“We’re all looking forward to welcoming Naulia and his family to Connacht in the next few weeks and bringing him up to speed on everything on and off the pitch.”

Speaking from New Zealand, Dawai said: “I’m extremely excited to get to Ireland and take up this wonderful opportunity with Connacht Rugby. It will be my first time in Ireland, and indeed Europe, but it’s a challenge I am really looking forward to.

“From speaking to Pat (Lam) and watching the Connacht games, I am excited by the type of rugby being played and I hope I can come over and add something as well. I’d like to thank all the coaches at Otago and particularly Cory (Brown). I feel truly blessed to have this opportunity for myself and my family.”

Meanwhile, ahead of Saturday’s European Champions Cup opener against Toulouse at the Sportsground, the Connacht Rugby medical team have provided the following update.

Tom McCartney will remain out of action until the end of November following the hamstring injury he sustained against Edinburgh, while fellow front rower Denis Buckley will be unavailable until November with the knee injury he picked up in the Edinburgh game.

Recent Ireland debutant Matt Healy has undergone surgery for the hand injury he suffered during the GUINNESS PRO12 win over Edinburgh and will be unavailable until the end of November.

Quinn Roux is recovering from a concussion sustained in training last week and continues to go through the return-To-play protocols. Sean O’Brien has recovered from the ankle injury he sustained in pre-season and has been reintegrated to full training.

Eoin McKeon is recovering well from the chest injury that resulted in him coming off against Ulster last Friday, and Kieran Marmion is recovering from the calf injury he sustained against Edinburgh and hopes to be available to train this week.

Peter Robb sustained a hip injury in training last week and is undergoing rehabilitation with the medical and fitness staff, while fellow backs Eoin Griffin (hamstring) and Rory Parata (knee) are due to integrate into team training this week after recovering from their respective injuries.

All players will be monitored closely ahead of the team selection for Toulouse and Sunday’s opening British & Irish Cup pool game for Connacht Eagles against Cornish Pirates.