Rugby League

Fiji Bati Standouts

Costin praised the efforts of Penrith Panthers prop Viliame Kikau who scored a try in their 14-14 draw against Newcastle Knights. Also impressive was Kikau’s Bati team-mate Jacob Saifiti who also scored the first try for the Knights.
02 Jun 2020 10:02
Fiji Bati Standouts
Penrith Panthers and Vodafone Fijian Bati prop Viliame Kikau takes on the Newcastle Knights at the Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney, Australia on May 31, 2020. Kikau scored a try in their 14-14 draw as they prepare to take on Auckland Warriors on Friday. Photo: Penrith Panthers.

Parramatta Eels centre Waqa Blake is one of the standout Vodafone Fijian Bati players during the third round of the National Rugby League (NRL) last weekend.

The 25-year-old played his 100th NRL game in Eels 34-6 win over the Brisbane Broncos at the Suncorp Stadium, where he scored the final try.

Fijian Bati head coach Brandon Costin said Blake was tenacious in defence and was brilliant in setting up wingers Maika Sivo and Blake Ferguson.

“Congratulations to Waqa like a 100 games in the NRL for someone that young it’s a big milestone and I couldn’t be happy for him,” Costin said.

Eels fielded four Bati players in Blake, Sivo, Kane Evans and Reagan Campbell-Gillard.

“ It’s just they came back from this pandemic looking at the intensity of that game and the way the boys played just showed how professional they were in this period.

“It could have been an excuse to them to sort of ease their way back into it.

“I think they hit the ground running and that’s something these boys can use to mould their preparations and don’t use this pandemic as an excuse.

“When we start training again that can inspire the guys from here to perform like that.”

Costin praised the efforts of Penrith Panthers prop Viliame Kikau who scored a try in their 14-14 draw against Newcastle Knights. Also impressive was Kikau’s Bati team-mate Jacob Saifiti who also scored the first try for the Knights.

Other Bati players that played during the weekend were King Vuniyayawa of Auckland Warriors, Suliasi Vunivalu of Melbourne Storm along with Mikaele Ravalawa, Brayden Wiliama, Tariq and Korbin Sims of the St George Illawarra Dragons.

There are 24 Fijian players playing at this year’s NRL.

Costin said players like Kikau, Sivo, Blake were some notable names that have set a standard in the competition.

“Having 24 of our boys play at the NRL is awesome and it boosts and fires up the local boys to work harder to reach that level.

“They’ve seen Sivo, Waqa Blake and all the other boys making it to NRL and now their hopes are uplifted.

“This is because they got that system and pathway here to reach that level. All of this brings excitement to rugby league in Fiji.

“We’ve got the hubs across the country that will help boost these young kids’ preparations. We’ve have got the facilities and the coaches behind us now.”

Costin said all these players were aiming for a spot in the Bati squad for next year’s Rugby League World Cup.

“They have to be consistent and align themselves to the Bati culture.”

Costin said selection would be based from a few key points.

“My selection will be based on availability, current performance, ability with Fiji Bati culture and previous performance with the Bati team.

“I will work around this discipline in order to select my players for the Rugby League World Cup next year.”

Meanwhile, Costin said with the introduction of the Kaiviti Silktails under coach Wes Naiqama helps in developing young talents that make it to the NRL and then to the Bati.

“The Kaiviti Silktails is a place where young players can learn the professional way of training.

“Getting them a head start to NRL and then later getting a nod for the Bati team. For now, COVID-19 has interrupted the season not so sure when it will resume again.

“The key to the growth of rugby league in the country is getting more success stories homegrown stories like Maika Sivo.

“The introduction of a youth academy and HPU set up will assist in getting more young player professional contracts.”

RESULTS

Round 3: Broncos 6-34 Eels, Cowboys 36-6 Titans, Roosters 28-12 Rabbitohs, Warriors 18-0 Dragons, Sharks 16-28 Wests Tigers, Storm 6-22 Raiders, Panthers 14-14 Newcastle Knights, Sea Eagles 32-6 Bulldogs
FIXTURES

Round 4: Thursday- 9.50pm Broncos v Roosters; Friday- 8pm Panthers v Warriors, 9.55pm Storm v Rabbitohs; Saturday- 7.30pm Eels v Sea Eagles, 9.35pm Cowboys v Sharks; Sunday- 6.05pm Raiders v Knights, 8.30pm Titans v Wests Tigers; Monday- 6.05pm Bulldogs v Dragons.

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