Much has been said about the Crusaders this season as they fell short of the play-offs for the first time since 2001, finishing in seventh place just behind the Brumbies. With the return of world-beating All Blacks Dan Carter and Israel Dagg, it seemed like a 15th consecutive play-off place was guaranteed.
However, after 18 tough rounds they fell just short despite scoring more points than any other team in the Super 14 with 481. Scoring 23 more points than the competition leaders, the Hurricanes, the Crusaders were obviously doing something right in attack.
While most of the spot light was on the returning New Zealanders, all the headlines were stolen by Fijian captain Nemani Nadolo.
6ft5in winger Nadolo has had a storming year, scoring and assisting tries week in week out. Pure power has enabled the 130kg man to simply run over his opposite man on several occasions. This being said, Nadolo has also been known to possess an unreal turn of pace and some great footballing skills making him one of the best all round wingers in the world.
A big game player, Nadolo has scored nine tries this term including a brace against the Reds and the Brumbies. He also scored important tries against the Hurricanes and the Waratahs, proving he can perform at the very top level.
Born in 'Rugby Town' in Fiji, Nadolo is from a rich sporting background. His cousins included Lote Tuqiri and Tevita Kuridrani whilst his younger brother, Chris Kuridrani, is currently playing for the Queensland Reds in the Super 14.
Captain of the Fijian national team, Nadolo epitomises a patriotic leader who wears his heart on his sleeve. He has scored 14 tries in 18 appearances, and has slotted 13 conversions and nine penalties.
His international record is impressive enough, but holds no comparison to his club rugby records. 21 tries in 27 appearances for the Crusaders since 2014, followed 55 tries in 51 games for the Japanese outfit the Green Rockets.
In all, Nadolo has scored 95 tries in his last 116 games.
At just 27 years old, Nemani Nadolo could potentially have two World Cups left in him, along with at least five Super Rugby seasons. His beloved Fiji line up against hosts England on September 18th for the start of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, spelling danger for the English defence. Usually deployed as an outside centre for Fiji, he is guaranteed to make an impact.
The big ball carrier is in impervious form, and is sure to make his huge frame catapult him into the spotlight at this year’s Rugby World Cup.
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