Why Fijian star Kubu longs to play for Kenya’s Shujaa

AfricaPress-Kenya: The 26-year-old put a man-of-the-match performance to guide Kabras Sugar to their maiden Kenya Cup glory in 2016.

Fijian fullback Jone Kubu has made a name for himself in the rugby fraternity after arriving in Kenya six years ago.

After quitting college education for rugby, the then 21-year-old started his journey to settle in Kenya after arriving with the Samurai Fiji Barracudas in 2014 for the Safari Sevens tournament.

“I did not know anything about Kenya until I started hearing about Collins Injera who was making headlines across the world during the HSBC World Sevens Series with the Kenya Sevens team,” said Kubu.

“When my then coach Sailosi Naiteqe told me of an opportunity to play in Kenya, I grabbed it with both hands,” said Kubu.

After the tournament, the Samurai Waimanu Naitasiri Rugby Club made arrangements with Kakamega based rugby football club Kabras Sugar, which signed Kubu alongside Sava Racigi, Apenisa Natambua (forwards) and John Navuso (back).

He immediately made an impact after joining the team mid of the 2015 national Sevens circuit, where he finished as top points and try scorer.

“The boys were preparing for Masaku Sevens when we first joined them in Nairobi. It was one of the most challenging moments of my life. First of which we had to travel two and a half days across the globe and still had to play in our first tournament after spending just a day with the boys,” he said.

“I did not know anything about this boys; how they play, their game plan, line-out calls… I was a bit lost and nervous at that time, but they were very welcoming and helpful during our short stay.”

Kubu then inspired Kabras Sugar to their maiden Kenya Cup title glory after putting a man-of-the-match performance in their a 22-5 win over Impala Saracens RFC in the final.

“To win the Kenya Cup in my first season with the club was my happiest moment of playing rugby in Kenya. It made me fall in love with Kenya.”

He scored more than 12 tries and had 135 points during the 2015/16 season. The diminutive player then walked away with the Man-of-the-Match accolade during the Kenya Cup final.

Unlike most foreign players, who play in Kenya for a maximum of two to three seasons, Kubu has carried on for five years now and he’s not about to relent as he has resorted to learn Kiswahili. He can also mumble a few words in Luhya, the local dialect in Kakamega.

“It’s fun playing in Kenya. It feels like my home in Fiji. Kenyans are not only my brothers but have become my family. I definitely miss Fiji but I love it here,” said Kubu in an interview with the Standard Sports.

And after staying in Kenya for five years and gracing four consecutive Kenya Cup finals together with winning the Enterprise Cup last year, Kubu believes he can do even better for Kenya in the international stage.

“Kenya is my new home, and if I am lucky to be drafted in either the Kenya Sevens or Kenya Simbas national teams, why not? I’d be delighted to play for them. I’ve been staying here long enough. I’d love to give it a go.”

Under the World Rugby “residency rule” known as Regulation 8, “A player may represent a country after they have resided there for 36 months”.

“Kenya Sevens has been doing well during the HBSC Series legs across the world and I believe I could thrive even more with the team. It will be a pleasure to play for Kenya at any stage,” he said.

Kabras Sugar are in Kenya Cup semifinals (put on hold due to coronavirus), and Kubu is hoping to win his second title since 2016.

“Last season, I had to juggle with injuries but right now I am really good. It was a painful experience to lose in the final at home last year and we hope to rectify our mistakes this year hopefully to win after the virus situation is over,” he said.

Kubu was born in Suva, Fiji in a family of five. Raised in a rugby family (father played provincial rugby), he started playing rugby at the age of seven years after being inspired by his father and other Fijian stars whom he used to watch on television.

He signed for his home town club Waimanu Rugby Club at the age of 17 back in 2011 and he has also featured for Uluinakau Rugby Club at the Central Coast 7s in Australia.

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