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Rotuman Sports

From Fiji Times Online (27 October 2015)

Prep joins Italy club

by Solomone Rabulu

Leeroy Atalifo

NATIONAL tighthead prop Leeroy Atalifo is bound to join Italian-based club Rovigo.

The Rotuman native who was one of only two local based players to be selected for the Rugby World Cup said he had been granted release from Fiji Rugby Union yesterday and was left with his visa paperwork to officialise his travel.

While Atalifo has inked a year-long deal with Rovigo it is not the only club that has shown interest in signing the towering Suva front-rower. This was confirmed by Flying Fijians coach John McKee.

"After the Rugby World Cup there has been a few clubs that had shown interest but as always I would like to see our players set up in well organised clubs. I may not know a lot about the club but I am aware that it competes in the elite rugby competitions in Italy," he said.

Rovigo competes in the highest tier of the national rugby union competition in Italy called the National Championships of excellence or the Eccellenza.

The club has won the championships 10 times and has never faced relegation since joining the competition.

Atalifo said he was excited for the new venture and hoped all pans out well in his preparations.

"It's a good start for me. I think I will be able to gain good experience from this. Italian forwards are really good and it is good for me to go and learn," he said.

He added that the response from his family had been fairly positive as they had always supported his rugby efforts.

The 27-year-old has been granted a year's leave without pay to pursue his rugby career.

"To me becoming a firefighter was my dream job, it still is and while I go for a year, I just can't leave it. I owe a lot to my workmates.

"With all the rugby commitments they have supported me and covered my shifts and I am really grateful for them," he said.

© Fiji Times Ltd.