Exploitation and abuse of young Fijian rugby talent

For every Waisake Naholo who makes it big, many more Pacific players find themselves in serious difficulties. Photo / Getty Images

Fijian rugby players are being exploited by international player agents to the point where the players are left with just 20 percent of their wages, according to an investigation by the UK Daily Telegraph.

According to the report, one player did not receive 11 months’ salary, leaving him with no money to buy food, toiletries or even a blanket to sleep under. Another player, a former international, faced the prospect of a criminal conviction for unpaid taxes for which his previous club was liable.

Fijian sevens coach Ben Ryan told the Telegraph agents were signing players from Fiji without the proper paperwork which causes major issues and potentially ruins the career prospects of promising players.

“There are so many flaky agents around,” Ryan says. “Rugby league is doing some disgraceful things in Fiji – sending players one-way tickets to Australia on visas that don’t allow them to play professional sport, so they are immediately breaking the law. Then they outstay their visa, get deported and they are banned from going overseas ever again for work they might have done in the future. That is effectively a life sentence.”

Ryan said agents from both league and rugby were exploiting Fijian players.

“Some are doing it the right way and targeting guys who they think will be stars,” Ryan told the Telegraph.

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