Fijian flyer joins the Sharks
Sunday 23 December 2012 9:00 AM
The Sharks have added to their backline depth with the signing of Fijian rugby international Alipate Ratini on a one-year contract.
A cousin of Wests Tigers winger Marika Koribete, the 21-year-old Ratini is a former Fijian sprint champion, having once recorded a time of 10.90 seconds over 100 metres.
He has since earned a reputation as a prolific try scorer on the IRB 7’s circuit and has represented Fiji at both 7’s and 15’s rugby. Ratini also has some rugby league experience, having played for the Nabua Broncos rugby league club and for Fiji in the National Vadaphone Cup.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan explained they first became aware of Ratini’s ability at a rugby sevens event, with the club then moving quickly to add the Fijian flyer to their NRL squad.
“One of our scouts saw him playing rugby sevens for Fiji in Newcastle,” Flanagan explained. “It’s about giving him an opportunity. While he’s been playing rugby and rugby sevens, he has a rugby league background which will help with his transition.”
Quietly spoken, Ratini rated his first week at the Sharks, one in which a tweaked hamstring restricted his training, as simply “very different” to what he had been used to.
“We used to run 6 kilometres for training,” he said.
Recognised as the rising star of Fiji Rugby Union, Ratini was named in the team of the tournament at the recent IRB Gold Coast 7’s, an event won by his Fijiian team, and comes to the Sharks with an exciting reputation.
Ratini, who stands 182cm tall and weighs in at around 92kgs, will return with the rest of the Sharks NRL squad on January 7 to begin the steep learning curve necessary to get him ready for top level rugby league in 2013.