Should Super League clubs be scouting players like Ratu Naulago from Rugby Union sevens?
16 February 2019 - Written by Zack Wilson
Hull FC have taken a punt on some rugby union talent in the shape of Fijian winger Ratu Naulago.
The Fijian, who featured as a guest player for union side Saracens when they won the Premiership Sevens trophy in summer 2018, has had his trial period at the club extended recently.
After undergoing preseason with the Airlie Birds, he is now working to get up to speed in rugby league.
He is set to spend a period in the club’s reserve side, gaining precious experience in the 13-man code.
Given the injury situation at FC, the former British Army soldier might find an opportunity coming along sooner than he expects.
With Matty Dawson-Jones now sidelined for a long spell, it might just be worth Lee Radford taking a punt on the Fijian and playing him.
The problem with players from Sevens is that shorter form of the union game has nowhere near the same intensity of effort as rugby league.
Defensive organisation is nowhere near as intensive, and there is not the need to make tackle after tackle in the line.
Sevens can look thrilling, but it has all the tactical depth of a puddle, and playing in Super League is a vastly different proposition to playing in Sevens tournaments.
But at least Hull have shown willing to look outside the box when it comes to recruitment.
Super League clubs need to start doing more of this. Our pool of potential Super League players needs to grow, and looking at union players, sevens or otherwise, is a good way of boosting the numbers.
Sevens players are bound to be fast, and it looks like a good place to try and find outside backs, if not front row forwards.
While the Fijians remain the stars of Sevens, it might also be a good idea for clubs to be looking at countries like Spain, Kenya or Canada.
Countries like that are yet to really hit the heights in 15-a-side union, and Super League clubs might well be able to offer them more of a career than they might otherwise have if they stuck to Sevens.
Of course, one plank of any offer made to such players might be their chances of shining on the international stage.
As things stand, our current lack of anything resembling a rational international calendar in rugby league must hamper recruitment from outside the sport.
But Hull deserve credit for taking a chance on such a talent. Let’s hope we see a few more like him willing to give league a chance over the coming years.