Moana Pasifika winger Timoci Tavatavanawai still have the pair of rugby boots his mum bought him when he was in secondary school.
The Namara, Tailevu native started playing the sport at the age of 10, and didn’t own any rugby boots at that time.
It was until he joined Queen Victoria School that his mother bought his first boots.
Though he has gone on to play in New Zealand’s National Provincial Championship, Tavatavanawai says the boots will be a reminder of the hardship he had to overcome.
“When mum bought me that boot, it was really special, because back in the village it is hard to get money and boots were too expensive to buy. When my mum bought my boots it was the best part of my life and my career.”
Rugby was never the career choice for the Tasman Mako winger.
The 23-year-old grew up watching his mother struggled to make ends meet.
Tavatavanawai says the dream was to be a farmer, and help out at home.
“The dream was to become a farmer and help mom and dad back at but once you went to school you realize how life is hard. When the opportunity I grabbed it and go with the follow.”
Tavatavanawai has big plans and being part of the Flying Fijians in the 2023 World Cup is one of them.