Akapusi Qera is glad he dug his heels in about playing rugby, not cricket
Tradition almost robbed rugby of Akapusi Qera altogether.
The bulldozing flanker explained how lobbying for change as a teenager took him around the world.
AKAPUSI Qera stood before his village elders and family, and asked not to play cricket any more.
The 18-year-old risked shame and derision by turning his back on Lau's traditional sport.
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He was meant to strive for cricketing greatness.
He was supposed to emulate his father, and rise through his home village side to prominence with Fiji.
The fast-developing teenager had other ideas: he sought permission to move to New Zealand to take up a rugby scholarship.
And for the first time he admitted he hated cricket, a game so idolised in his village despite most of Fiji sharing his own passion for rugby.
Calming the uproar, he asked for leniency.
He explained the rush of blood when South Africa lifted the 1995 Rugby World Cup on home soil.
No one understood: no one in Lau had ever played any serious rugby.
He stood his ground and packed his bags.
When he returned two years later he won selection to Fiji's Under-20s – his big breakthrough.
The sceptics were converted.
"The elders were not happy about it to begin with," explained the 28-year-old wrecking-ball loose-forward. "Cricket is the traditional family game, and of my village too.
"There was expectation to continue with cricket and stop rugby altogether.
"I had to convince them to let me try it out, whether it would work for me or not.
"I just told them I felt it was something I had to try, just to see how it would work.
"Once I started to progress and move up the levels, they began to understand the potential."
Qera's Fijian international father Suliasi Sorovakatini and his uncles formed the backbone of Lau Cricket Club.
As an 11-year-old Qera struggled with batting and could not master bowling. He was relegated to tearing around the outfield.
He was losing interest, fast.
Then the Springboks battered New Zealand into submission to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy.
The Rainbow Nation united, Francois Pienaar and Nelson Mandela embraced – and Qera found his spark.
Qera's family let him indulge the new-found rugby passion at Suva Grammar School, his father even setting up a home gym to help him bulk up.
Older brother Tiko Matawalu was swayed into rugby too.
The brothers were always expected to concentrate on cricket in adulthood, but instead both served Nadroga Stallions and Fiji rugby with distinction.
Prop Matawalu stayed on to captain the Stallions, while one standout season with Birmingham and Solihull catapulted Qera to Cherry and Whites acclaim.
Now in the grip of his sixth Kingsholm campaign, the destructive tackler remains relieved he forced his rugby issue.
"I'm the worst cricketer ever – they just used me for fielding because I was quick at chasing the ball!" he joked.
"I made a good decision trying rugby!
"I thought cricket was a bit boring for me, so I decided to try rugby.
"All my family play cricket, and in fact my elder brother played cricket but then converted when I tried rugby.
"People from Lau, they only know about cricket, so rugby was something new for them really.
"I just got into it by watching games on the TV, and then I thought about trying it out.
"I watched a few World Cups, especially the 1995 competition, and that pushed me to kick on and try rugby.
"I was a big Springboks fan funnily enough when I was young: I loved watching flanker Rassie Erasmus, he was my big idol when I started off.
"So I guess I was always going to be a back-rower.
"I saw these guys in the back-row able to get involved in every part of the game, and I loved it.
"I started off playing on the wing, but then I just kept getting bigger and bigger so I kept on moving inside."
Qera left Fiji for New Zealand's prestigious Wanganui Collegiate School in 2003, the nursery of 15 All Blacks including 1987 World Cup-winning captain David Kirk.
He admits the culture shock disciplined him for the career to come.
"I was lucky with the scholarship, and that's where things moved on," he continued.
"That's when I started climbing through the levels.
"I had only played school games before then; that was about it. It was a massive step-up going there.
"And then the first year after I came back I played for Fiji Under-20s, and after that I moved up to the full squad.
"Everything popped up off the back of that.
"It was a crucial two years, it changed all my mentality of being a typical Fijian laid-back guy.
"It's good to come out of your comfort zone and to try to test yourself at a new level.
"And I know that without that experience I would never have been prepared for England and Gloucester.
"My family are happy now, and that's great that it's all worked out.
"Now I just need to move on and keep pushing myself to improve."