BY OLIVER ROBY
Hull FC have confirmed star winger Ratu Naulago will leave the club at the end of the current Super League season to take up a deal with Bristol Bears.
Despite only gracing the 13-a-side code for a year – he was spotted playing for The Army’s Rugby Union side before FC snapped him up – he’s already left his mark.
Here’s why we think he’ll take the Premiership by storm.
Now aged 28, Naulago is at the very peak of his powers – and he can run! The Fiji-born winger has bagged an admirable 15 tries in 23 league games for Hull with almost every one seeing him rip on the outside of his opposite number, or travel the length of the pitch to score.
A remarkable try he bagged in the Challenge Cup last year:
Here he is going ‘coast to coast’ in just 12 seconds in France:
And a truly unstoppable run against Salford:
Not only can he hit a serious top speed with his straight line running, but his evasive skills are to be admired as well.
One of his best tries of the season has clocked up over 21 million views on Facebook to date, a remarkable effort at Wakefield Trinity.
Before he launches into a trademark charge for the tryline, he shows astute awareness to buy some time and spot a gap in the defence.
Then he spins out of a challenge and he’s on his way. A physical nightmare to try and defend against:
Naulago is not just a tryscorer either, the flying wide man has racked up a fair share of assists during his time in Super League.
In most cases, he’s flying down a dead end having burned the opposition defence, but he shows admirable awareness to bide his time and find the right pass for his team to score.
Here he is setting up teammate Albert Kelly at Castleford:
Against Leeds in the opening round of the current season, he bamboozles the defence with his pace and trickery, before sending his centre over with ease
Another example sees him receive the ball in full flight, using his awareness to be in the right place in the right time, before unleashing a teammate into space against Catalans:
Outside backs, beware!
Naulago is more than just a fine attacker, the 28-year-old is capable of bringing the hits, too.
While his positional sense left a little to be desired in the view of some, when he connects with a tackle, the opposition certainly feel it.
Here are just some examples of his power in defence:
5. He’s a rugby union player!
In most cases of league players making the Premiership jump, they haven’t played rugby union before, but that couldn’t be further from the truth in Naulago’s case.
Prem 7s | Hat-trick for Ratu Naulago! His third score pulls Sarries ahead with 3 minutes left to play SAR 19 LEI 14— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) July 27, 2018
The Fiji-born star is a Private in the Yorkshire Regiment and served in Cyprus for two years before being based in Warminster, Wiltshire, and playing rugby union as a ‘guest player’ for Bath and Saracens Sevens team, who he helped to the Premiership title.
He was also scouted to play for Hull FC while playing rugby union for The Army. That means he won’t need the usual adjustment period and can hit the ground running for his new club upon the eventual completion of the 2020 Super League season.
What a full strength Bristol Bears XV might look like next season
Although many more of the 40 plus squad could make an argument for inclusion, here’s a potential Bristol Bears XV ahead of the 2020/21 Gallagher Premiership season.
Player whose names are in italics are players Bristol are rumoured to be interested in, but are yet to be signed.
A POTENTIAL BRISTOL BEARS XV
1. John Afoa
A World Cup-winning All Black international of 36 caps, the experienced prop joined the club in 2018.
The tight-head was named in the Gallagher Premiership team of the season in 2018/19 after another remarkable campaign in the top flight.
2. Harry Thacker
A skillful dynamo of a hooker, Thacker was added to Pat Lam’s squad for the 2018/19 season.
In an impressive debut season that included a hat-trick versus Wasps and a scintillating brace versus Tigers, Thacker was listed in the Guardian team of the year.
3. Kyle Sinckler
The 26-year-old British & Irish Lions forward will switch Premiership clubs in the summer of 2020.
Sinckler, who made his professional debut for Quins in September 2011, was a key part of England’s 2019 World Cup side but only played three minutes of the final against South Africa after being knocked unconscious in a collision with team-mate Maro Itoje.
4. Chris Vui
The 24 year-old – who can play second row or back row – earned his first cap for Samoa during the 2016 November internationals.
Vui became the youngest captain in World Rugby when he skippered Samoa in 2017, before earning a spot in the Championship team of the season.
In 2019, Vui made his debut for the Barbarians following an impressive campaign for the Bears in the Gallagher Premiership.
5. George Kruis
A decade after his debut for Saracens, the 29-year-old Lion from Guildford is understood to be considering a career move to the Far East, having been there last autumn for the World Cup.
However, if the Bears could convince Kruis to remain in the Gallagher Premiership and come to Ashton Gate, he would make their line-out imperious.