Sunday 18 February 2018 / 11:13 AM

Semi Radradra: Not Your Average Winger

For a long time now, the Parramatta Eels have craved a winger who possesses the ability to physically manhandle opponents while chalking up regular tackle busts.

They now have their man.

His name, you ask? Semi Radradra.

Hailing from Suva, Fiji, Radradra entered the rugby league world as a foreign entity that was relatively unknown. Having become accustomed to rugby union as a young athlete, he initially played for the Vatukoula club as a junior whilst working in the mines.

It wasn’t until early 2012 that the Eels discovered Semi and his explosive attacking flair – the club acted swiftly, inking a deal. Parramatta’s first obligation was to see whether or not Radradra’s brutish style could make the successful transition to league.

Semi impressed throughout his stint in the Holden Cup (2012 and 2013), and after becoming familiar with his new game, thanks to an incredible work ethic, Radradra finally got his opportunity to play first-grade in Round 18 of 2013.

Now in Round 7 of 2013, not only does Radradra lead the NRL in total tries, he’s atop in line-breaks, which further emphasises his explosive and dynamic aptitude. Additionally Semi has representative honours, featuring for the Fijian U20s side (rugby union) and for the Fijian rugby league team; most notable was his performance at the Rugby League World Cup.

Since that time, Semi has taken his game to the next level. A character and a half both on and off the field, Semi is a quiet figure that becomes shy around the media and those he’s not acquainted with. A totally diverse personality to the one we’ve recently witnessed on the field.

Though he might be smiling just about all the time, Semi’s reputation for having an outstanding work ethic precedes him. As fans, that vigorous drive is evident in every hit-up and each tackle.

If you look at Radradra’s overall game from a critical standpoint, there are aspects that work very well – such as his raw emotion, power, speed. These traits give Semi the ability to capitalise on staggered defensive-lines when his inside backs get the ball out early.

Like with any professional sportsperson there’s always room for improvement, even if he does appear to be firing on all cylinders at the moment.

Such developments come in the form of subtle changes. Semi is a determined player and constantly eager to produce every match, so knowing that hard work is required to advance his skills, one can only think it’s just a matter of time.

Defensively, would be his most obvious flaw. He’s been known for pulling off some bell-ringers, most recently a solid shot on Roosters’ back-rower Boyd Cordner. Semi can be caught out of position at times, usually when rushing out of the line too early in chasing a big hit. Yes, at times, it is effective. But, when it doesn’t come off, it leaves a free run to the try-line. That’s a small criticism, yet an important area of any winger’s game.

Overall, considering Semi’s roots have been rugby union, he’s done well to make a successful transition into this new realm – rugby league.
While still being a bit rough around the edges, Radradra’s explosiveness, muscle, pace and raw emotion are elements that make him a devastating symbol for the Eels and Fijian national side. If you were to ask any coach in the league if they would like Semi on their roster, their answer would be instant without hesitation. Semi’s potential is sky high, and in due time he may well become an elite NRL winger.

He definitely possesses the skills and work ethic to do so.


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Ricardo Ascenso

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