The 2019 NRC campaign may be over for the Rising, but it could just mark the start of Navarra Haisila’s journey to being a professional player.
A member of the Rebels academy, the twenty-year-old was plucked from the Dewar Shield with less than a season of first grade rugby under his belt.
“The academy prepared me by the way we’re integrated into the main squad.
“Obviously not having a contract I was still able to dip my hands into the Super Rugby environment time and time again and it helped me immensely to get to where I am now.
“Pom pulled me aside in the locker room to chat to me. He told me I was going to be a part of the NRC campaign and he wanted to tell me in person,” said Haisila.
“I was overly joyful with the opportunity ahead and I couldn’t wait.”
For the Power House product, training alongside Super Rugby and internationally capped players was a surreal experience.
“You watch from the outside and you look up to these guys and aspire to be like them but when you’re thrown in there you really do feel a part of them.
“NRC is just a fast pace environment compared to club rugby.
“The skill levels, the communication and the overall standards for players are higher.
“There’s some big hits in club rugby but here it was all about executing your role and you know if you didn’t you’d be found out because of the skills these guys are at.
“You really have to fight for your positions as well here because it’s no piece of cake.”
That fight eventually paid off when Navarre was named on the bench to face the Fijian Drua in the second last round of the competition.
“My season highlight was definitely my debut and equal the Fiji Drua game.
“Playing in front of a crowd full of Fijian supporters and family watching on it couldn’t get better.
“I remember when I used to watch Sione (Tuipulotu) play rising and think how cool it would be to get on the field like him so it was a huge highlight.”
A full NRC campaign now under his belt, Haisila has raised the bar with his goals for 2020.
“Going into 2020 it’s pretty straight forward. It’s to get better every day at my skills and what I can control.
“It’s about getting my body right in preseason to reach the standard of Super Rugby players.”