Old Collegians Rugby Union Club
Old Collegians President Kim Evans shares a special moment with past Old Collegians Junior RFC players Alex Rokobaro and Liam Gill following the Rebels vs Reds match at AAMI Park!
... Photo courtesy SARU
Picture: Aaron Francis Source: The Australian
Crunch time if rookie Alex Rokobaro wants something to crow about
By: WAYNE SMITH
From: The Australian, March 08, 2013 12:00AM
Melbourne Rebels winger Alex Rokobaro, who is set to become the first South Australian to start a Super Rugby match when he runs on against the Queensland Reds.
AFL keeps eroding rugby's heartland but the 15-a-side code will at least strike one blow in retaliation tonight when Melbourne Rebels winger Alex Rokobaro becomes the first South Australian to start a Super Rugby match.
The 23-year-old is a self-described rugby gypsy, having attended John Eales's alma mater, Marist Brothers Ashgrove, before joining Shute Shield powerhouse Sydney Uni and then heading off to France to play the 2011-12 season under new Waratahs coach Michael Cheika at Stade Francais, but he remains very much a proud South Australian.
With a Fijian father, Ben, and a South Australian mother, Merridy, Rokobaro was born in Adelaide and spent the first 15 years of his life there. As fiercely parochial as his mother's side of the family was - and still is - where the Crows are concerned, it was rugby that he gravitated towards as a youngster. "My dad played up till he was 45 for Old Collegians and won a premiership in every grade at the club, so when I was a kid I used to go down and watch him play," Rokobaro told The Australian. "There wasn't any junior rugby for me, so I used to play some soccer and basketball, but I finally started when I was about nine. I'd play in the under-10s on a Saturday and watch Dad in the thirds or fourths on the Sunday."
It was when he was 15 and his family moved to Brisbane that he began to take rugby seriously and became a devoted fan of the Queensland Reds, which is just a little awkward because it will be the Reds he will confront in his run-on debut tonight. "They have some awesome footballers," said Rokobaro, who isn't quite sure whether to be relieved or worried that he will be opposing Dom Shipperley tonight rather than Digby Ioane. There is no question that Ioane is a highly dangerous game-breaker but Shipperley has started the season in the form of his life. Rebels coach Damien Hill has made it clear to his players that if the franchise is to shake off its image as an expansion club and be seriously considered as a contender, it must win two of its three home matches at the start of the season. So far the Rebels have beaten the Force in the season-opener but then blew a narrow half-time lead to be overrun by the Brumbies. Throw in last week's away loss to the Waratahs in Sydney, where the Rebels again squandered a good start, and it becomes apparent why tonight's clash is shaping up as pivotal to Melbourne's season.
"We've played some really good footy this season but we have to focus on playing it for the full 80 minutes," Rokobaro said. "We're not far away from producing it."
There might not be any other South Australians in the Rebels - or any other Super Rugby franchise, for that matter - but that's not to say Rokobaro won't have some familiar faces around him tonight. Halfback Nick Phipps and debutant fullback Angus Roberts are teammates from his days in Colts. And if Rokobaro happens to emerge as a member of the first Rebels team to defeat the Reds, well, that would certainly be something to crow about. In the finest South Australian tradition, of course.
Rokobaro enjoying Melbourne life and Rebels experience
Croweater Rokobaro Revelling in Super Rugby Opportunity
By Pete Fairbairn 27/02/2013
When I first caught up with Alex Rokobaro at the start of the pre-season, both he and RaboDirect Rebels Recruiting Manager Sam Cordingley spoke of the exciting young back as a long-term prospect.
Rokobaro himself added that 2013 was mainly about learning from those around him and perhaps sneaking a few minutes in, yet just four months later Rokobaro has already featured in both Super 15 match day squads, made his Rebels debut and is pushing for a starting spot in the Rebels' side.
Rokobaro watched as fellow backs Cooper Vuna, Kimami Situati and Jason Woodward all went down to injuries that would delay the start of their season, and while he has received greater opportunity as a result, he certainly takes no pleasure from seeing his teammates hurt; indeed, quite the opposite.
"When Kimami got injured, I actually found it really tough," Rokobaro explains. "We were both aiming for the same spot and going toe to toe pre-season, so I was really disappointed when he got injured. We were really feeding off each other's energy, but now all three of them are nearly back in full training which is great for the team."
Rokobaro came on in leaps and bounds over the pre-season, and openly admits it was different to the pre-seasons he had done overseas when playing in the Top 14 for Stade Francais.
"When we had our first run out of the pre-season, 'Hilly' (Head Coach Damien Hill) kept telling us how quickly pre-season would go. A few of us kind of looked at each and thought, okay we'll see how that goes because there is a lot of conditioning to do!" Rokobaro laughs.
"But in hindsight, he was spot on, it goes so quickly and before we knew it the trial games were upon us. The pre-season here was a lot different (to the pre-seasons at Stade Francais); in France, there's a lot of older players so it is more focused on getting blokes back on the field as opposed to getting blokes bigger and faster. But this year at the Rebels, with a young crew, all the coaches were excited to work us hard and see what sort of a group they could mould us into."
Rokobaro was thrust into the action on Friday night against the Brumbies when James O'Connor went down with concussion, a daunting baptism of fire but one in which the young flyer excelled and showed plenty to excite Rebels' fans.
"It was really quite abrupt when James went down. I was ready to have a bit of a jog and a warm up, and I was hopeful I might get on late in the game, but suddenly I got the call and it all happened so quickly. I have wanted to play Super Rugby since I was a kid, so with little time to prepare suddenly there were a few things going through my mind, but I had no option other than to settle into the game and work with the other guys to have a good crack.
"It was disappointing to lose, but I was proud to play and so were my family and friends. I enjoyed the 30 minutes, I made a few mistakes I wasn't happy about but I had some good involvement, and now there is hopefully a lot more Super Rugby ahead of me."
With flyhalf Kurtley Beale a 50/50 proposition for the game against the Waratahs this coming Saturday, Rokobaro may find himself in line for a starting spot in a re-jigged backline, but he is keeping his feet well and truly on the ground.
"I know a lot of the guys in the Waratahs backline as I have played with and against most of them, so I would love to have a crack for sure. In saying that, just because Tom (English) and I were the backs on the bench this week, it doesn't mean that we have first crack.
"Hilly always picks the blokes who are training really well and you have to come in on Monday ready to rip in, because there's only 48 hours until the team is named. If Kurtley doesn't end up pulling through it would be a real shame because he is such a good player, but everybody will be stepping it up on the training pitch trying to get the chance, and you really don't know who will get it."
Rokobaro is very well-grounded, intelligent and charismatic, another product of the famed Marist Ashgrove College in Brisbane whose alumni include Wallaby legend John Eales and cricket champion Matthew Hayden. Rokobaro isn't a Queenslander though, and while the fanfare on Friday focused on Shota Horie's debut as the first Japanese player to play for an Australian Super 15 side, Rokobaro set a record of his own when he came off the bench.
'somebody told me that I am the first player born in Adelaide to play Super Rugby, so if that is true it is a real honour. I was born there, and lived there until I was fourteen," (except for a small period in his father's native Fiji) Rokobaro explains.
"It's one of the reasons I love being part of the Rebels. Adelaide was similar to Melbourne in that there was a small rugby community, but a very passionate one. In fact, I think that the smaller rugby communities are sometimes even more passionate than the big ones on the Eastern side of Australia, because everybody involved has to make a real effort to support and watch the game.
"Even though I moved to Queensland, a lot of my closest mates are from Adelaide and from the Rugby Union scene down there, so I understand what it is like for everybody involved in rugby here in Victoria."
As the Melbourne Rebels really stamp their presence in this AFL-mad state, and continue to expand the great game of Rugby Union into new territory, it seems especially pertinent to have somebody with Rokobaro's unique rugby union background featuring for the Rebels.
And if Friday night's debut was anything to go by, Rebels fans can get excited about the opportunity to watch this Croweater shine on the big stage for some time to come.
Height: 183cm, Weight: 91kg, Date Of Birth: 06/10/1989, Place of Birth: Yasawa, Fiji, School - Westall Secondary College, Charity - Amy Gillett Foundation, Club - Harlequin
RaboDirect Rebel Alex Rokobaro returns to Super Rugby after a successful stint at French glamour club, Stade Francais.
Alex began playing Rugby Union in his hometown of Adelaide, where he quickly became one of the state's brightest young stars.
His young rugby journey took him to Brisbane, where he represented both Australian and Queensland Schools.
Alex again moved, relocating to Sydney, where he won a Colts Premiership for Sydney University as well as featuring in many of their grade triumphs. His success was rewarded by NSW Waratahs selectors, when he was drafted into their Academy system in 2010.
Alex is familiar with the Club's ethos and coaching staff, having played for the Rebel Rising in the foundation season, before taking up an opportunity to play with Stade Francais in the French Top 14 and Amlin Challenge Cup.
Alex's impressive form was rewarded when the Rebels signed the then 22 year old in the middle of 2012, on a two year contract.
Alex is of Fijian heritage - from the serene island village of Yasawa, and has represented Fiji at under 20s level.
The classy left footer can player in every position in the back line, although his form at Stade Francais would suggest that his preferred position is fullback, where he scored two tries in 10 appearances.
Fiji A defeat Tongans in soggy Suva
May 18, 2008
The Fiji A side lifted their game in the second half to down their Tongan counterparts 25-10 in heavy conditions at the National Stadium in Suva on Saturday night. Locked 10-10 at the breather, Rayne Simpson's team showed an excellent level of fitness to dominate the latter parts of the game and seal the win four tries to two.
"We've been working hard on our set pieces," Simpson said afterwards, "and I thought we controlled them well today, and that set the platform for the win. The whole pack did a great job." "The plan was to keep it tight in these conditions but to go wide if we got the opportunity."
The Tongans were first off the mark with a try to crafty right wing Sione Sete. Fiji hit back with a penalty goal by fly-half Alex Rokobaro from in front of the sticks, and were awarded a penalty try in the 31st minute to give them a 10-3 lead. The Tongan backs combined well to conjure up their second try from fullback Mateo Malupo to leave the sides level at half-time. The second half clearly belonged to Fiji as halfback Vuga Tagicakibau squeezed through to touch down on 51 minutes, then inside centre John Stewart finished off a smart move through the middle to take the score to 20-10. Fiji No.8 Samu Vunisa ran well off the back of the scrum and made plenty of ground, and wing William Umu also produced some impressive skills in the wet.
Having been held up twice in the in-goal area, the Fijians threw one last move together but the Tongans ripped away possession and kicked ahead. Fiji centre Isikeli Vuruna scooped up the ball 35 metres out and forced his way past three tackles attempts before touching down in the corner for a quite brilliant try to complete the scoring.
FIJI A: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Alipate Buto (William Saukuru 69), 13 Isikeli Vuruna, 12 John Stewart, 11 William Umu, 10 Alexander Rokobaro (Anare Vakawaletabua 56), 9 Vuga Tagicakibau (Peni Rokodiva 56), 8 Samu Vunisa (Waqabaca Kotobalavu 56), 7 Jese Cirikisuva, 6 Joseva Levula, 5 Tevita Tuiloa (Ofa Unaloto 77), 4 Temo Vakaloloma, 3 Jeke Lalai (Manasa Saulo 77), 2 Saula Qalomai (Seru Cakobau 77), 1 Serupepeli Qaranivalu. Coach: Rayne Simpson Tries: Penalty try, Tagicakibau, Stewart, Vuruna; Conversion: Rokobaro; Penalty goal: Rokobaro.
TONGA A: 15 Mateo Malupo, 14 Sione Sete (Feleti Hausa 65), 13 Viliami Takai, 12 Patrick Maka, 11 Pauni Atiola (yellow card 63-72, Sione Hausia 74), 10 Mahe Fangupo, 9 Sekope Maea, 8 Casanova Kauvaka, 7 Inoke Taufa (Tevita Molliteka 60), 6 Finau Tupa, 5 Tevita Taugi (Paula Kata 53), 4 Sapu Hehea, 3 Mosa Afu (Samiu Vea 72), 2 Tone Tuleufuka (Lepaola Tauveli 70), 1 Lonely Kengike (Ikuna Manuofetou 41). Coach: Fe'ao Vakata Tries: Sete, Malupo.
Scoring sequence (Fiji's scores shown first): 12min - TRY TONGA, Sete; conversion Malupo (missed) - 0-5 17min - PEN GOAL FIJI, Rokobaro (missed) - 0-5 20min - PEN GOAL FIJI, Rokobaro - 3-5 31min - PEN TRY FIJI; conversion Rokobaro - 10-5 35min - TRY TONGA, Malupo; conversion Malupo (missed) - 10-10 Half-time 52min - TRY FIJI, Tagicakibau; conversion Rokobaro (missed) - 15-10 59min - TRY FIJI, Stewart; conversion Murimurivalu (missed) - 20-10 63min - Yellow card Tonga, Atiola 87min - TRY FIJI, Vuruna; conversion Murimurivalu (missed) - 25-10 Full-time
From the Fiji Times Online:
Halves spearhead Fiji U20
RODNEY DUTHIE, Saturday, May 17, 2008
HALVES pair Vuga Tagicakibau and Alex Rokobaro will form a pivotal combination for the Fiji under-20 side against their Tongan counterparts at the National Stadium this evening. The two players, like their teammates, are being groomed to be the future faces of the Flying Fijians.
New Zealand-based Tagicakibau will start at halfback while Rokobaro will control the game from the flyhalf's position. The team will be led by former Marist Brothers High School student Jese Cirikisuva.
Fiji U20 coach Rayne Simpson said though the team to the Junior World Championships has been finalized, there was still more work to be done before they head to Wales. 'so we are looking forward to the three warm-up matches that are coming up," Simpson said. "We feel this is a good chance for us to map out our best combinations and iron out the loose bits before the World Championships."
The Fiji U20 will travel to Sydney to play Australia on May 25 before they take on North Surburb Colts on May 28.
Fiji U20: 1 Serupepeli Qaranivalu, 2 Saula Qalomai, 3 Jeke Lailai, 4 Temo Vakaloloma, 5 Tevita Tuiloa, 6 Joseva Levula/Waqabaca Kotobalavu, 7 Jese Cirikisuva (capt), 8 Samuela Vunisa, 9 Vuga Tagicakibau (v/capt), 10 Alex Rokobaro, 11 William Unu, 12 John Stewwart, 13 Sikeli Vuruna, 14 Alipate Buto, 15 Kini Murimurivalu. Reserves: Seru Cakobau, Manasa Saulo, Ofa Unaloto, Joseva Levula/Waqabaca Kotobalavu, Peni Rokodiva, Anare Vakawaletabua, 22 William Saukuru.
From FijiLive Sports
Rokobaro enjoys drills at dunes
Fiji Times - Thursday, April 17, 2008
AUSTRALIA-based Alex Rokobaro is determined to make Fiji proud at the International Rugby Board Junior World Cup in Wales in June. Rokobaro is one of the eight overseas players roped in by coach Rayne Simpson to boost Fiji's bid against the likes of Australia, England and Canada whom they will face in pool play. The 18-year-old Marist College student was spotted by Simpson in Australia.
Rokobaro said he didn't know what to expect before arriving in Fiji. The utility got his first taste of the torrid training session as the Junior Flying Fijians hit the sand dunes in Kulukulu in Sigatoka on Tuesday. Rokobaro said training at the sand dunes was tough but enjoyed every moment.
"It will definitely help in my fitness," quipped the youngster. "My mother paid my air fare to get to Fiji. My father Ben hails from Yasawa though I haven't been there. So when I first came in I didn't know what to expect. However, things have turned out well. "
The Junior Flying Fijians ended their training camp in Sigatoka yesterday. According to Simpson there is still a lot of work to be done ahead of the tournament in wales which kicks off on June 7. He said the sand dune session was part of the team's building and conditioning program. "Apart from the physical challenges, the other important thing is to start team bonding," Simpson said.
"The fitness level of players is improving. However, there is a need to put more work in between camps. I'm hopeful the boys will stick to their training program out of camp." Simpson said the next camp will be held in Suva starting on April 28.
Fiji will play England in on June 7 in Newport, meets Australia on June 11 and against Canada on June 11.
Fiji U20 squad:
Forwards-Saula Qalomai, Seru Tabaiwalu Cakobau, Penijamini Makutu, Serupepeli Qaranivalu, Jeke Lalai , Manasa Saulo, Alexander Mar, Tevita Tuiloa, Unaloto Ofa, Temo Vakaloloma Cama, Waqabaca Kotobalavu, Levula, Jese Cirikisuva, Uraia Vecenadavui, Samu Vunisa, Sireli Kaloucava.
Backs: Peni Rokodiva, Vuga Tagicakibau, Alexander Rokobaro, Anare Vakawaletabua, Kasami Natubavivi, John Stewart, Eroni Tara, Isikeli Vuruna, Kolinio Vunaki, Venaia Navutovuto, Seremaia Tagicakibau, Henry Speight , William Umu, Pate Buto, Kini Murimurivalu, William Saukuru, and Sakiusa Malai.
Players input impresses SimpsonINDRA SINGH
Thursday, February 14, 2008, Fiji Times Online
The five are Malakai Kaci, Alexander Rokobaro, Eroni Tava, Lai Kaumaitotoya and Venaia Navutoto.
The young Flying Fijians broke camp yesterday after a hectic three days training camp in Suva in preparation for the Junior World Cup to be played in Wales in June. "They play at a higher level in Australia and have bought in some new things to the team," Simpson said. "They have adapted very well and I have been impressed. "These overseas-based players have also been learning a lot from their local counterparts."
The former Sharks coach was impressed with the fitness level of the players and said it showed the youngsters were being honest in following their training programs. "We have been working on a lot of basics and one of the main areas is passing which we have been trying to get the players well adjusted to," he said. "This is an important facet of play. We are 60 per cent where we wanted to be and by the start of the tournament we will be right where we want to be."
Simpson was to have named 42 players in the Elite Development Squad last night who will come back into camp next month. Following that there will be two more camps in April before the team gets together in May.
The side will play a one off Test against Tonga on May 17 in Lautoka before leaving for Australia.
While there, two matches against North's and Sydney University will be played before the side leaves for Wales.
Fiji is pooled with Australia, England and Canada for the June 6-22 tournament
Overseas-based players, Alexander Rokobaro, left, Eroni Tava, Malakai Kaci and Lai Kaumaitotoya during an U20 training session at Buckhurst Park.