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Kikau Rise No Surprise

Kikau Rise No Surprise
Vodafone Fiji Bati and Cowboys U20 prop Viliame Kikau is tackled.
May 15
07:00 2015

North Queensland Cowboys under-20s prop Viliame Kikau’s rise from rugby union centre to bench forward for the Fiji Bati was sealed with a standout performance against the Newcastle Knights last weekend.
The 19-year-old was playing as a back for the Fiji schoolboys rugby union representative side against Australia just over two years ago, but has now already played alongside Melbourne Storm flyer Marika Koroibete in the 13-man code against the Papua New Guinea Kumuls early this month.

Kikau’s 193cm, 114kg frame is hard to miss and he was spotted by then-Cowboys recruitment manager Adrian Thomson and player development manager Dean Payne while playing in the Fijian schoolboys rugby league competition during a visit to Suva in 2013.

He was being scouted by French rugby clubs at the time, but chose to come for a visit to the North Queensland set-up and decided to come back and stay.

Kikau was one of three Fijian players to spend six weeks at the Cowboys, another being recent Fiji rugby sevens recruit Josaia Wini, but was the only one to come back.

Once a raw talent with a propensity to offload too often, Kikau has adapted to a change in lifestyle in North Queensland and has grown into his role as a prop forward in the NYC.

“He’s improved out of sight even since I’ve been here and everyone has told me that the year before he was really raw and had some bad rugby habits … he was wanting to offload the ball a bit,” Cowboys under-20s coach Todd Payten said.

“He’s curtailed that and he understands his role as a front rower.

“He’s really grown as a player and a person and I’m sure it’s been difficult for him along the way leaving his family and friends at home and in a different culture, a little bit more fast-paced and his commitments around the club and responsibilities with time.

“He’s adapted really well.”

Kikau scored two tries against the Knights under-20s in a 56-16 win, his second two-try haul in as many weeks.

Unbeknown to him, Knights first grade and Fiji coach Rick Stone was sitting in the stands watching and included him in his side.

“He had some strong carries, found his front all day, scored a couple of tries again I think he earned his spot just from that game alone,” Payten said.

Thomson, who is now at the Townsville Blackhawks, said the highly skilled player had done well to polish his game and add size while getting used to living in a new country away from his close-knit family.

“From a Fijian rugby league side of things, I think it’s worked out well for him and it’s a good chance to blood him,” Thomson said.

“Most of last year he was pretty raw to rugby league and after a full season of under-20s he’s been playing very well this year.

“He’s a quick learner and he’s obviously advanced well to get into that senior (national) side which is great for his development.”

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