AFL superstar Nic Naitanui recounts the terrifying moment he was forced to yell out ‘I’m from Fiji’ on wild trip to Syrian border – and why his quick-thinking saved his life
- AFL superstar Nic Naitanui has lifted the lid on his trip to the Middle East in 2018
- The ruckman was holidaying in Israel when he decided to travel to Syrain border
- Naitanui said he found himself in ‘sticky situations’ and admitted he was ‘scared’
AFL superstar Nic Naitanui admits he was so terrified he cried during a dangerous trip to the Middle East in the off-season.
The West Coast Eagles ruckman was on holiday Israel in 2018 when he decided he wanted to venture to Palestine, the Gaza Strip, and the Syrian border.
But Naitanui got far more than he bargained for and even had to hide in a car under a jacket and yell ‘I’m from Fiji‘ potential violence.
‘I was really scared… I’m happy to say I cried. I cried, I laid down and cried, but I’m happy I did it and I won’t do it again,’ he told the Ordineroli Speaking podcast.
AFL superstar Nic Naitanui (left with his girlfriend Brittany) has lifted the lid on his wild trip to the Middle East
The West Coast Eagles ruckman was on holiday Israel in 2018 when he decided he wanted to venture to the Gaza Strip and Syrian border. He is pictured in Old City Jerusalem
The 30-year-old said he likes to travel somewhere ‘different’ – but his footy club were not necessarily happy with his unconventional travel style.
‘When people think of a holiday they think of an amazing island… For me, I try to get the complete opposite,’ he said.
‘Sometimes I go to the extreme level and I go to places you probably shouldn’t travel.’
The Eagles star said he was ‘safe’ in Israel but found himself in some ‘sticky situations’ once crossing into Palestinian areas.
‘I remember one time I had to lay down flat in the car and put a jacket over my head because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,’ he said.
‘Because I looked like an American and I was screaming ‘I’m from Fiji!’.’
Naitanui said the trip was a ‘big eyeopener’ and a ‘different world’ to his reality at home in Perth.
‘Yeah it was different. When you’re seeing missiles flying over your head at night time or people walking around with machine guns like AK-47s in the street, things like that,’ he said.
‘You see militant groups running wild on the back of their Toyota hiluxes.’
Naitanui said the trip was a ‘big eyeopener’ and a ‘different world’ to his reality at home in Perth. He is pictured in the Dead Sea in Israel
Naitanui is seen warming up before the AFL Marsh Community Series pre-season match between the West Coast Eagles and the Essendon Bombers at Mineral Resources Park in Perth, on February 27 2020
Naitanui said he wouldn’t recommend visiting that part of the world, appearing to have learned his lesson.
‘The club didn’t really like me going there, but I’m a free man, I’m a free spirit and free to travel where I can, when I can,’ he said.
Naitanui aid he was only able to venture to far more dangerous areas by convincing Julie Bishop, who was the foreign affairs minister up until August 2018, to grease the wheels.
‘She was the number one ticket holder for a while at West Coast, and she helped me get in contact with a few people and put me in the right places,’ Naitanui said.
‘Growing up here in the [notoriously rough] Perth suburb of Midland, a lot of people think they’re gangsters. You’re not gangsters.
‘You go over there, those guys are gangsters, they are real thugs.’
AFL superstar Nic Naitanui, 30, is pictured with his girlfriend Brittany