Fiji star Akapusi Qera joins Newport
Newport Rugby Club have completed the eye-catching signing of Fijian former World Cup star Akapusi Qera.
Qera, 36, has appeared in three World Cups for Fiji, captaining his country in the latter in 2015, and played top level rugby in England and France with Gloucester and Toulouse.
The 65-capped Fijian back row arrives as a major capture for Midlands Premier side Newport, who agonizingly missed out on promotion to level four rugby last season via a slightly inferior win percentage to Harrogate after the coronavirus pandemic brought the campaign to an end.
Qera has moved to Stafford after most recently turning out for Gloucestershire outfit Hartpury University, who play in the RFU Championship.
He spent seven years at Gloucester from 2007 to 2014, becoming a firm fans’ favourite at Kingsholm Stadium, where he was nominated for Premiership player of the season and as well as winning the club’s player of the season award.
Qera, who is known as ‘Q’, will play a dual role at The Old Showground, where he goes in as player-coach, working alongside director of rugby and head coach Bob Adams and his coaching staff.
He is joined through by fellow new recruits and compatriots Joseph Maka, a prop, and winger Taz Wara, who both arrived from Moseley.
The trio will team up with another Fijian, Hendry Vaka, who has returned from his rugby sabbatical ‘itching to go’ for next season. Vaka was influential in setting up Newport’s meeting to bring in Qera.
Adams said: “We’re delighted. It’s been ongoing for a month, I was made aware he’d moved to Staffordshire.
“We’ve got a big Fijian connection with our club and one of our Fijian players, Hendry Vaka, fixed us up with a meeting.
“We liked what we saw, he liked what he saw of us. A couple of weeks later he agreed to come on board as player-coach.
“It’s really good to have somebody of that experience, who has played so many internationals for his country and appeared in three World Cups, is superb.
“He wants to go through his coaching badges, he has a few under his belt, but he also wants to play alongside and help develop the lads through the next couple of seasons.”
The good news keeps coming for Newport, who early this month secured the lease on their Forton Road base for the next 99 years.
Members fundraised tirelessly to help raise the £200,000 up-front premium.
With Newport’s first-team season set to get under way in October, the club can then turn their attentions to more ways to maximise The Old Showground.
They have drawn up plans for a new changing block, with the current attached facility to be developed to allow more functions.