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Western Highlander Christopher Minimbi has become the first Papua New Guinean to be selected into the Flying Fijians squad for next month’s Autumn Nations Cup.
Scheduled for 13 Nov -06 December6, the Nations Cup will involve the Six Nations teams – England, France, Ireland, Italy, hosts Scotland and Wales – as well as Fiji and Georgia.
Minimbi’s mum and late dad are from Kadavu, Fiji, and Western Highlands respectively.
Papua New Guinea Rugby Union development manager Sailosi Druma, who grew up in his native Fiji before relocating to the country, praised the Naitasiri lock on his selection.
“For anyone to make the Flying Fijians squad, they have to be really good,” he said of the side who are ranked 11th in the world.
“He must’ve being playing really well.”
Minimbi, who grew up in PNG until he was 10 before relocating to Fiji to continue his education, started playing rugby union in 2015 when he was doing Grade 10 at Marist Brothers High School in Suva.
The 20-year-old also played for the Under-20 national side and the Fiji Warriors, who are the second-tier outfit to the national team.
“He’s quite big,” Druma said of the 1.98m, 120kg Mt Hagen native, who plays in Fiji’s premier provincial rugby union competition.
“A lot of Fijians are quite big as well but for him to be able to make the final squad, he must’ve been performing really well in the Skipper Cup.”
Druma said it was hard to make the Flying Fijians squad and even harder to “retain your spot”
“This will also be a good platform for him to get scouted by overseas clubs,” he said.
Minimbi was among nine domestic players selected for the squad.
Meanwhile, former Canterbury Crusaders winger Nemani Nadolo has come out of international retirement to play for Fiji in the Nation’s Cup.
Vern Cotter’s Fiji will kick off their Nations Cup campaign against France on Nov 15.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
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