Wallabies call thrills Fijian revelation

Darren Walton
Eto Nabuli says the opportunity to play Test rugby has changed his life forever

With a Luna Park smile, new Wallabies winger Eto Nabuli has recalled the instant five years ago that changed his life forever.

The softly-spoken speedster was working as a hotel porter in his in native Fiji when rugby league greats Andrew Johns and Brad Fittler felt compelled to ask the supreme physical specimen what sport he played.

"I said: 'Oh, I just play rugby.' They told me maybe I'll play league," Nabuli said on the eve of his Test debut against Scotland on Saturday.

"I said" No, I've just played union'. From there they wanted to get me to play league. They took me to the school, spent some time there with kids, work on kick and catching.

"From there they made a video and sent it back to Penrith Phil Gould. The journey started from there.

"I'll be honest, man, I can't believe now where I am right now. The only thing now is to work hard and do my best. The opportunity is really big to me."

After linking with the Panthers in 2013, Nabuli joined St George Illawarra, collecting seven tries in 15 NRL games for the Dragons before returning to his first love and finding a home with the Queensland Reds last year.

The 28-year-old has lit up Super Rugby, making it impossible for Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and assistant Stephen Larkham to ignore him.

Replacing injured fellow Fiji-born flyer Henry Speight, Nabuli is the only change to Australia's side that beat Fiji 37-14 in their first Test of the year last Saturday.

"He's been a standout winger. He's definitely a finisher," Larkham said.

"He's got great skills, he's got good height, so hopefully there's a little bit of ball in air to him and then defensively just a good body, communicating well with the outside backs there. A nice big body in the outside channels."

One of five children, Nabuli admitted it was a wrench leaving his small village of Malomalo in Nadroga, where he's now a hero but the chance to make a life for himself and his family made the move to Australia a no-brainer.

"It was hard, first time to leave the family," he said.

"I just stay with my mum, was hard leaving Mum back at home. I just see this is my future (and) wanted to go and set it up."