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Naiqama Raring to Lead Fiji After Two Year Absence of Test Football

Following a two-year absence from International Rugby League, Roosters outside back and Fiji Captain Kevin Naiqama says that Saturday night's clash against Papua New Guinea can't come quick enough.

After a week of preparation which has seen the Bati reconnect with teammates and their community alike for the first time in years, Naiqama has been in high spirits and is ecstatic to represent his heritage once again. 

Naiqama Scores His First Roosters Try

“It’s been great, especially after being away from the Test arena for the last two years,” Naiqama said.

“Yesterday, the Fijian community came to an open training session that we had with the St Marys Rugby League team where we had an opposed match.

“It was great to get that sort of interaction with the fans and with other Fijians that came out to support us, and it’s just good to be back in camp with the boys and to see a lot of familiar faces again.

“Both of my parents were born and raised in Fiji and moved to Australia for better work opportunities, and something that my mother instilled in us from an early age was our culture and our traditions. 

"Weddings, ceremonies, birthdays - all the big events in life -  have always been a big part of our lives, and it's something we’re proud of and is really unique to our culture.”

“It’s the pinnacle when it comes to Rugby League and receiving rep honours. When you aspire to be a Rugby League player as a kid, one of your main goals is representing your country.

Kevin Naiqama On representing Fiji

At 7:50pm on Saturday night in the headline event at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Naiqama's Bati will face off against Papua New Guinea - a surprise rivalry that has come to the fore of International Rugby League in recent years. 

The 33-year-old is familiar with their opponents and will face off against a Roosters teammate in Lachlan Lam for what is an imperative weekend ahead of the 2022 World Cup later in the year. 

“It’s going to be tough,” he admitted.

“PNG as a nation, they’re a very tough team to beat. They only know one way and that’s straight through you. It’s always a tough encounter every time we’ve played them and we’re expecting nothing less than that.

Naiqama Stars for Fiji Against Tonga, 2017

“Coming up against a fellow teammate in Lammy, he’s such a great player. He’s so talented and he’s a great addition to that PNG team, so it’s going to be hard to handle him but we’re going to do our best to contain him as much as we can. 

“It’s really important and it’s a great concept to have within the Rugby League calendar to celebrate Pacific culture. Across all the teams there are so many NRL boys that are representatives of their nations.

“It’s great to celebrate these players and the Pacific. It’s been two years since we’ve all played Test football so to get back in, get back those connections and to help with preparations for the World Cup, it’s so important.”

Skippering his nation for the eleventh time this Saturday, Naiqama holds his position in such high regard, it's hard not to well up when he speaks about pulling on the Fijian jersey.

“It means the world to me,” he stated.

“It’s the pinnacle when it comes to Rugby League and receiving rep honours. When you aspire to be a Rugby League player as a kid, one of your main goals is representing your country.

Leader: Kevin Naiqama has captained Fiji since 2016, and has been a mainstay at fullback and at five-eighth.
Leader: Kevin Naiqama has captained Fiji since 2016, and has been a mainstay at fullback and at five-eighth.

“It’s the ultimate honour and privilege that you can receive personally. That’s what I see it as; an honour and a privilege to represent my nation of Fiji.

"To be considered to play for the Fijian team is such a big thing for me and the captaincy on top of that is something that I don’t take lightly.

“There are a lot of senior players in the team that help me with my role. It’s just such an easy team to lead and personally, I tend to do that with my actions more than my words.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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