Jiuta Naqoli Wainiqolo, born on March 10, 1999, is a Fijian rugby union player who is currently playing for Toulon in the Top 14 competition in France. He also represents the Flying Fijians in both the 15s and 7s formats of the game.
Wainiqolo gained significant recognition during the 2020 Summer Olympics, where he was a member of Fiji's Men's Rugby 7s team that won the gold medal.
Originally from Namara, Vuda, with maternal links to Vatulele in Nadroga-Navosa Province, Wainiqolo comes from a rugby-oriented family. His father, Nemia Wainiqolo, was a former fullback for the Nausori Rugby Club in the 1990s.
Wainiqolo grew up in Navua, a small town located 48 miles west of Suva, the capital city of Fiji. He attended Vashist Muni Primary School and Vashist Muni College, where he initially played soccer for the school team. It was during his time at Ratu Kadavulevu School that he began playing rugby.
In his early years, Wainiqolo aspired to become an Olympian after watching Fiji's Men's Rugby 7s team win the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Encouraged by his father and older brother, he focused on rugby and joined Ratu Kadavulevu School in 2017.
Under the coaching of Nacanieli Saumi, the Director of Rugby at RKS, Wainiqolo's skills flourished. He represented the RKS 7s team on a tour to Australia and later played a pivotal role in their undefeated campaign in the Eastern Zones and the subsequent victory in the 2017 Deans rugby competition.
Wainiqolo's success continued in 2018 when he was selected for the Fiji Under 20s team, which went on to win the finals against Samoa in Romania. He was then offered a contract with the NRL's Cronulla Sharks academy in early 2019, where he made an impact in the Under 20s before parting ways with the club.
Upon his return to Fiji, Wainiqolo joined Nabua Rugby Club on the advice of his high school coach, Nacanieli Saumi. He caught the attention of Fiji Rugby officials, leading to his selection for the Fiji Drua in the 2019 National Rugby Championship. He made his debut and scored his first try during the competition.
Wainiqolo's performances in both the Fiji Drua and the Barbarians match earned him recognition from Fiji 7s coach Gareth Baber. He was invited to join the extended Fiji 7s team for the 2019-2020 series but did not make the final cut for the tournaments in Hamilton and Sydney. However, he showcased his abilities with the Fiji Warriors in the 2020 World Rugby Pacific Challenge.
Leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Wainiqolo remained focused on playing 7s rugby despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He participated in the 2021 Super Sevens Series, impressing in the Marist 7s tournament and earning a spot in the Fiji Shadows team for the Oceania 7s.
Following his standout performances, Wainiqolo was selected as part of Fiji's Men's Rugby 7s team for the Tokyo Olympics. Fiji successfully defended their gold medal, with Wainiqolo contributing as the top try scorer for Fiji in the tournament.
After the Olympics, Wainiqolo signed a three-year contract with Toulon, a prominent club in the French Top 14, starting from the 2021-2022 season.
Ahead of the Rugby World Cup 2023, Wainiqolo has been named in the training squad for Fiji.
|2019 - present
|2021 - present
|2019 - 2020
|2021 - 2022