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Rugby News

Rugby-Wallabies' Daugunu jumps from soccer to fulfil rugby goals

WELLINGTON, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Being a good high jumper at secondary school is what brought uncapped Wallabies winger Filipo Daugunu to the attention of national selectors - as a soccer goalkeeper.

The 25-year-old Daugunu played for Fiji’s under-17 soccer team as a teenager and despite the speed that is evident on the rugby field, he was stuck between the posts in the round-ball sport.

“I was good at high jump at high school,” Daugunu told reporters from the Wallabies bio-secure hub in Christchurch. “So they could see I could jump and decided to put me in at goalkeeper.”

While Daugunu was making inroads with soccer, he juggled those commitments with rugby while at secondary school in Suva.

“Sometimes I’d play sevens and after one game I’d go and play soccer and then back again to finish the sevens tournament,” Daugunu said.

Daugunu quit soccer in 2015, represented the Fiji under-20 rugby team and then was part of the Fiji sevens programme in 2016 before he moved to Brisbane the following year.

The Fijian soccer team’s loss was Australian rugby’s gain with Daugunu impressing Brad Thorn so much for Queensland Country that he signed him for Super Rugby’s Queensland Reds in 2018.

Daugunu had a storming Super Rugby AU season with the Reds this year, even if he did receive a yellow card in the final for a dangerous lifting tackle, and was named in Dave Rennie’s first national squad.

Despite being relatively inexperienced, there are suggestions he could make his test debut against the All Blacks next week in Wellington, something he had only dreamed about three years ago.

“When I arrived (in Brisbane) the dream was to play for the Wallabies,” Daugunu said.

“To play the first game against the All Blacks would be very (special).”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by William Mallard

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