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Rotuman Sports

From Fiji Times Online (20 December 2007)

Dewes with English Club

FLYING Fijians loosehead prop Graham Dewes is the latest national rugby rep to secure an overseas contract.

Dewes has joined English division one club, Esher from Surrey on a month's trial, making his debut off the bench in the 17-12 victory over Plymouth over the weekend.

Dewes, 25, made a lasting impression at the Rugby World with his match-winning try against Wales picked as the try of the year for Fiji rugby.

Making his debut for the Flying Fijians, the nuggetty loosehead with Auckland Marist, quickly cemented a place in the frontrow.

The signing has delighted national coach Ilivasi Tabua.

He said with Dewes having gone to Europe, there were only two World Cup forwards left in Fiji and he hoped they would secure similar contracts.

"It's great news that Dewes has gone over to England," Tabua said. "That has been our aim. We want to have our players playing top level rugby.

"Now we have Vereniki Sauturaga and Alefoso Yalayalatabua who we will be working on getting a contract."

Tabua wants a full strength Fiji team for the Pacific Nations Cup which features Tonga, Samoa, Japan, Australia A, New Zealand Maori and Fiji.

Esher director of rugby Mike Schmid expects the deal for Dewes to be extended for the rest of the season.

Schmid said, "I've been chasing him for a month or two now and his signing could not have come at a better time.

"We've been decimated by injuries to our frontrow and I'm sure he will be a big asset. I'm hoping he will have a big impact at the club. His mobility will give us new energy.

"He can play both sides of the scrum and I hope he will increase the competition for places.

"Some players often get a little complacent around this time of the season."

Trainer Henry Elder said Dewes was a dedicated player who had a lot of offers and had chosen the best one.

"It is great because he will play and train in a professional environment," Elder said.

The proposed 10-weeks break for players put forward by the International Rugby Board has been welcomed by the Fiji management.

Tabua said players needed to be away from rugby so their bodies could recover.

"There is a lot of rugby that these players play over the season and they need a rest," Tabua said.

"This 10 weeks away from the paddock will work in their favour."

Elder said while the 10-weeks break was a good move, one had to be careful not to give up all training.

"It is good the players get a break because sometimes players are fatigued," Elder said.

"But that doesn't mean complete shutdown and it's more like off season and the training must continue."