Rugby World Cup
Nakarawa boost for Fiji
August 19, 2011
Fiji's Leone Nakarawa has resigned from his post in the army to sidestep New Zealand's current travel sanctions © Getty Images
Fiji's Leone Nakarawa has been given the green light to bolster his side's Rugby World Cup challenge after side-stepping New Zealand's travel sanctions.
The New Zealand Government imposed a ban on members of Fiji's military regime in the wake of the coup that ousted the elected government in December 2006. As a result, 23-year-old lock Nakarawa, a junior officer in the army, would not have been able to enter the country if selected as part of Fiji's World Cup squad. However, an exemption has now been granted following Nakarawa's decision to resign from the army.
"The New Zealand government has been advised Fijian rugby player Leone Nakarawa has resigned from the Republic of Fiji military forces and has been discharged," commented Foreign Minister Murray McCully. "The New Zealand government will grant Nakarawa a temporary exemption from the travel sanction, this allows him to play for Fiji in the Rugby World Cup."
Explaining the decision to fast-track the process due to the impending World Cup, McCully added, "While we would normally take a little longer to provide an exemption or lift the sanction in respect of a person resigning from the military, in this case we agreed to act more quickly."
McCully has previously taken a more hardline stance, insisting in June that New Zealand would not relax travel sanctions against Fiji unless its ruling regime made "positive changes''.
Nakarawa is reportedly the only World Cup hopeful affected by the ban, although many of the Fiji Rugby Union's official are set to be refused entry to the country because of their military ties.
Fiji avoided a confrontation with New Zealand authorities last month by omitting Nakarawa from the team that travelled to Dunedin for a Test against the All Blacks.
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