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Birds of a Feather: Roosters and Silktails Continuing Flourishing Partnership

America won't be the only country the Roosters travel to in 2024, with the Club's Jersey Flegg Cup side set to face off in a historic match against affiliated club the Kaiviti Silktails in Fiji. 

The Roosters and Silktails are entering year five of their partnership, with the Fijian-based Jersey Flegg Cup club streaming plenty of talent who are set to don the famous Red, White and Blue. 

One player that has caught the attention of Roosters scouts is the NSW Cup team's own Meli Nasau, who opened the scoring in the side's 46-10 demolition of South Sydney in the Club's second Pre-Season Challenge match with a trademark four-pointer.

The tearaway backrower finished the match with 96 metres from 11 runs, 5 tackle breaks and 16 tackles in a tradesman-like performance, one that Silktails Executive Director Stephen Driscoll says could lead him to future success in the Tricolours. 

“You can see he’s kept his starting spot despite a number of NRL guys playing this weekend,” Driscoll said, referring to the Round 1 NSW Cup teamlist that featured NRL forwards Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Egan Butcher and Connor Watson.

“He’s a good story, Meli. A scout of ours who has a boat business saw him playing in a schoolyard, spoke to our football manager and she helped bring him to the mainland and into school. He initially missed the cut, but after another player was cut, he got brought in and was then named player of the year as a 19-year-old.

Meli Nasau Opens the Scoring

“When he played against Souths in the second Pre-season Challenge game, Petero Civoniceva and 150 people in the Club back in Fiji were going crazy when he scored."

In 2024, the Silktails have transitioned to the under 21s competition from the open-age Ron Massey Cup - a bold move that according to Sydney Roosters Head of Junior Recruitment & Development, Dean Feeney, will benefit both parties greatly. 

“We can develop players a lot earlier, and our recruitment team believes that we can get over to Fiji and bring in talent earlier," Feeney insisted. 

“Sometimes with those higher age competitions, it can be harder for players to come in and develop in the system. I would have loved to have recruited Meli two years earlier than we did, and he’s coming to the fore now and his upside will keep going, but it would have been better had we had gotten him at say, fifteen or sixteen.

“We’ll get to play against them, we’ll get to see them in the rookie camp and develop them from an earlier age and keep them in the system. They’re now getting similar coaching training to our NSW Cup side."

“The branding of NRL clubs helps with bringing clubs like the Roosters over," Driscoll added. 

“Rugby union is the biggest sport in Fiji, and we’re looking to bring in the best young kids. Ron Massey is a 16-week competition, while Jersey Flegg has 24, so that appeals to younger kids as well. Super Rugby clubs also only play a handful of games at home. 

“It also helps the Roosters’ cause too. If we have some players who have developed in our system for a year or two, they can bring them in for their final year and we can bring in a new wave of talent through.  

“It strengthens another affiliate as well with Glebe, with our players able to filter into their system too.”

In Round 23 of the Jersey Flegg Cup, the Roosters will embark on a historic journey to Fiji to play in the Silktails' Memorial Bowl; one that will no doubt forge the partnership between the two clubs even further.

The trip will be a week-long experience for the playing group and staff, with both teams determined to spread the game of Rugby League - as well as the good word of the Roosters - which could potentially see the NRL side host a match in the island nation sooner rather than later. 

“We had found out that in 2022 our Football Manager, Jacquie Shannon, had suddenly passed away. She had built a strong relationship with the Roosters at that point," Driscoll explained. 

“We’ve now started a community program after Jacquie and we play a Memorial Bowl in her name, and this year it will be against the Roosters at Churchill Park in Lautoka. We’ve got a whole week revolving around it and it’s going to be very exciting for both clubs. 

“The Roosters have invested a lot of money and support, and I want them to get recognition for it. We have produced five internationals, three top 30 contracted players, and an NRL debut - but those have happened elsewhere.

“Ultimately, we haven’t had an NRL debut at the Roosters yet. We’ve had a few that were close with development contracts but with the way it’s formatted now, there’s a better chance of it happening than ever. What we want to try and do is get an NRL debut out of this program.

"But a lot of those careers started here, and if the NRL wants to take a game there next year, I want to go in and say ‘If it’s an NRL game they want here, it’s got to be the Roosters’. The one program that has been true to the cause is ours.

We’ve stuck the flag in there and we want to make sure the Roosters get the right recognition for what they’ve done and what they continue to do. It’s a genuine pathway.

Stephen Driscoll Kaiviti Silktails Executive Director

“Kids come to us in Fiji and they’re small. They don’t have access to proper facilities at their disposal, so now we can start earlier and help them build up muscle and their physique.

“There are so many good stories to come out of here. There are guys that come into training with one boot and they say ‘Well, one is better than none!’

"We’ve put in ten training facilities around the country, and helped five players reach the national team and a whole lot of others go onto other opportunities. Three have also made the Fiji Sevens rugby team.

“We’ve stuck the flag in there and we want to make sure the Roosters get the right recognition for what they’ve done and what they continue to do. It’s a genuine pathway.”

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.