Analysis

Analysis: Bulikula Need To Play Regularly

The Bulikula exceeded expectations in Australia and did it again in Suva in front of a modest yet raucous home crowd at the ANZ Stadium.
18 Oct 2019 12:59
Analysis: Bulikula Need To Play Regularly
Fijian Bulikula rugby league team with Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Women Marise Payne (fourth from left) and Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa (fifth from left) at the ANZ Stadium, Suva on October 11, 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

The Fijian Bulikula showed last week why they are being billed as one of the fastest growing women’s rugby league teams in the world.

The Adrian Vowles-coached side went toe-to-toe against the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII last Friday, producing another impressive performance to follow up from beating Papua New Guinea 28-0 in June.

It was the team’s first match at home since that blistering international debut at Leichhardt Oval.

The Bulikula exceeded expectations in Australia and did it again in Suva in front of a modest yet raucous home crowd at the ANZ Stadium.

The match was played in four 20-minute quarters, with the Fijians taking the lead three times before Australia took control in the closing 20.

Coming up against a team laced with NRLW and Jillaroos players, the Bulikula played without fear, matching their opponents in every area from the first whistle.

Senior players Canecia Sims and Josephine Maejiirs had key roles to play, with Eloise Vunakece and Tanika Marshall also quite influential.

The home team’s three tries came from local-based players Seseli Donu, Vasiti Ramotiqa and Asena Rokomarama, further illustrating the game’s potential in Fiji.

Incidentally, three of the visitors’ five tries was scored by Patricia Raikadroka, who played for Fiji against PNG, scoring twice to instantly become one of Australia’s leading prospects.

Raikodroka was at her clinical best against the Bulikula, and one can’t help but wonder how different the result would have been had she chosen to play for Fiji.

MORE ABOUT PERFORMANCE

But this match was more about the performance than the results.

As coach Vowles pointed out, the Bulikula could have secured a memorable win had they retained possession better in the final quarter.

That speaks volumes about the team’s potential considering it was only their second match together as a group.

The team’s game management will improve as they gain more experience playing competitive matches.

The challenge now is for the Fiji National Rugby League (FNRL) to give this team the tools to realise that potential and shine on the world stage.

Organising more competitive matches would be a good start.

The men’s team will play at the Rugby League World 9s this week and the Oceania Cup in November, while the Bulikula do not play until next year.

Regular competition will give the players a purpose and help them develop their game to benefit the sport as a whole.

A second, and perhaps more important, step would be to get a domestic competition for women up and running.

There are many talented players in Fiji, but most are going unnoticed at the moment because they don’t have a platform to express themselves.

A domestic league for women, running parallel to the men’s Vodafone Cup, will give women that very platform, which is bound to have a positive impact at national level.

There is little doubt that interest in women’s rugby league will grow after what the Bulikula has been producing.

The onus in now on FNRL to seize this opportunity to grow the game.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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