Coach Wes Naiqama has challenged his players to show him why they should be in his Ron Massey Cup side, when the Fiji Kaiviti Silktails take on the Mascot Jets at Mascot Oval in a trial match on Saturday 13 March at 3pm.
Although the 2021 Ron Massey Cup competition begins tomorrow, the Silktails have to wait another week before facing Blacktown Workers as they have a first round bye in the 11-team competition.
“I’ve sort of envisioned what my first game side (on March 20) will look like, but in saying that, a lot has changed over the pre-season,” said Naiqama.
“So this game against the Jets I’ll be looking to make sure all the boys get some game time out there and that the combinations we’ve put together for this year work well.
“It’s the final trial for these boys to put their best foot forward for selection against Blacktown.”
In line with the rule changes the NRL has proposed for the 2021 season, the NSWRL will also apply those to Ron Massey Cup and other competitions.
With that in mind, Naiqama enlisted the expertise of former NRL referee Gavin Badger to work with the 28 Kaiviti Silktails players currently living in Sydney for the entire Ron Massey Cup season.
“To help with the new interpretations of the rules we invited Gavin out here (Mascot Oval) to run our opposed session, which was really good. We got a lot out of that,” he said.
The Silktails also conducted an opposed session last weekend with the Sydney Roosters Under 21s side to get their bodies “game ready” after disruptions to training back in Fiji due to two cyclones, followed by two weeks’ quarantine in February once they arrived in Sydney.
Silktails CEO Steve Driscoll said it was an easy choice picking the Mascot Jets to have their pre-season trial.
“We are guest tenants at Mascot Oval – the Jets home ground – and although they’re a junior rugby league club they are the sort of organisation that we want to be because they’re big on development,” Driscoll said.
“They’ve got so much history here and had internationals and big NRL stars come out of this club.
“Guys like George Piggins to Ian Roberts and Mario Fenech to current stars like Cameron Murray and Keaon Kolomatangi are all Mascot Jets juniors.
“Fiji Bati player Kane Evans is also a junior. That’s what we’re trying to do – push our guys to strive for the NRL.
“So it’s a really nice exercise to do this with them, and with our boys being out of hotel quarantine for two-and-a-half weeks now it’s really important to blow some cobwebs out.”
The Silktails receive funding and support under the “PacificAus Sports” program run by the Australian Government and designed to expand partnerships with Pacific sports teams and organisations in netball, rugby union, football and rugby league.