New England Free Jacks re-signed Poasa Waqanibau through the 2022 Major League Rugby season. The 26-year-old wing/center (27 in May) is 6’2″, and 230 lbs.
During the 2020 shortened MLR season, Poasa started all five matches, including two at the center and the other three at wing.
Poasa is from Vunisinu, Dreket, Rewa, but grew up in Kuku in Bau Tailevu, Fiji. He is the second oldest of four siblings and attended Ratu Kadavulevu School where he played rugby.
He played for Fiji Under 20s in 2014 at the Junior World Championship, however over a year prior to the competition, his father Jone Waqanibau died. His mother, Akanisi Voavoa, sold pudding so he could obtain rugby boots for the competition.
He then moved to New Zealand and became the top try scorer for Border RFC in the Wanganui Premier Club competition. He also was selected for the Telecom Fijian Warriors in the World Rugby Pacific Challenge.
Poasa also played for Canterbury in the NPC/Mitre10 competition and was part of Canterbury’s championship-winning 2016 campaign and continued to play for the side during the 2017 season. He also played for the Crusader Knights, the Super Rugby Crusaders development team, and played in the Brisbane 10s for the Crusaders in 2017.
In 2018, Waqanibau played with the Fijian Drua in Australian Rugby’s premier domestic competition, the National Rugby Championship (NRC).
New England Free Jacks Comments
Poasa possesses a well-rounded skill set and is equally comfortable both on the wing or in the centers, terrifying opposition defenses from both positions during the shortened 2020 MLR campaign.
“I can’t wait to return to New England with my brothers,” commented Waqanibau. “New England is my second home and the team has become like family for me. I’m excited to ramp my game up another notch and I hope JP [John Poland] can continue to put me in space next season.”
Waqanibau’s power, pace, and creativity were on full display as a standout performer for the Free Jacks in 2020. The big Fijian scored two tries, broke the gainline on more than two-thirds of his carries, and regularly set up his teammates with silky skills and highlight-reel offloads. He also was a leader on defense for the Free Jacks, exhibiting his strength in the contact area.
“Poasa was a pleasure to have in the organization in 2020,” commented Free Jacks Performance Manager, Tom Kindley. “His smile is contagious and I don’t think there’s a better duo in Major League Rugby than Poasa and John Poland. Obviously he has a massive frame for a center/wing making him a devastating ball carrier, but to compliment that, he has a classy skill-set and innate ability to see the game unfold in front of him and make effective decisions. I think we are only beginning to see what he is capable of and have no doubt 2021 will be a great year for him.”
With Poasa’s contract running through the end of 2022, Free Jacks fans can be excited at the prospect of the flying Fijian continuing to light up MLR for years to come.
Join Poasa and the Free Jacks for a virtual Town Hall “News and Brews,” on October 15. Grab a Free Jacks IPA, join the virtual gathering, and get to know the newest Free Jacks and the returning players. RSVP using the link here: https://www.freejacks.com/news-and-brews/.
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