Rest in Love Joeli Vidiri

Rugby Great and Legendary Fijian winger

We are heartbroken and shocked to learn that we have lost another Pasifika rugby legend, winger Joeli Vidiri Natabua Nadriubalavu Nalewavada who passed last night, this all tragically as we also mourn Inga Tuigamala.

Our deepest condolences are extended to Joeli’s family at this very sad time from the Moana Pasifika Board, management and team – our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Joeli will be forever remembered as one of the Pasifika legends of rugby for his speed, talent and the magic he brought to the field.

Blazing a trail during in his time with Counties Manukau and then the Auckland Blues in the Super 12 competition, Joeli scored 43 tries in 61 games. With Jonah Lomu, his dear friend and uso, there was a partnership that changed forever the way the wing was played.

Playing international rugby for both Fiji and New Zealand Joeli thundered down the sidelines and was truly one of our greatest Pasifika players who inspired a generation into sport and rugby.

Moana Pasifika Trust chair Savae Sir Michael Jones says of the All Back and Flying Fijians’ talent and calibre

“Joeli was one of the princes of wingers in world rugby. He is rugby royalty as he graced our fields with one of the most impressive styles of wing play, Fijian magic and mastery speed power agility, but with a hard-nosed New Zealand mentality and approach. He was a maestro, a machine!

“What I remember most and appreciate about Joeli was that he never changed. He stayed the same, humble, quiet, unassuming, the same boy from Nausori Highlands and Queen Victoria school who played for the Nawaka rugby club with that broad delightful Fijian smile always across his face. Joeli loved his family and friends. He loved people and he loved God. 

“I am so privileged to have played with him as a Blues man and as an All Black, but most importantly I am grateful, honoured and truly blessed to be called his friend and brother.

“Moe filemu oe le uso, amuia oe ua e iai ile matagofie ole tatou Tamā.

“Kivei Joeli Vidiri, Vinaka sara vakalevu na veitokani vaka qito kei na lotu daru mai sota tu kina, Isa moce toka mada nomu tokani lomani Michael Jones!”

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