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Silktails false start could be "blessing in disguise"

Coach Wes Naiqama has not made any changes to the Kaiviti Silktails side he named over a week ago for what ended up being a ‘false start’ to the Fijians’ 2021 Ron Massey Cup season.

The drenching weather across Sydney and most of the NSW coast (March 20-21) meant the Silktails opening game against Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles was moved from Mascot Oval to H.E. Laybutt Sporting Complex at Blacktown, before being cancelled altogether.

It was another tough break for the Fijians, who made their Ron Massey Cup debut in March 2020 after a seven-year wait only to have the season called off following one round due to COVID-19.

They had the bye in Round One this season followed by a washout in Round Two. They are set to meet St Marys in Round Three on Saturday, but again the venue has changed due to the weather.

The game originally scheduled for Mascot Oval has now been moved to McCredie Park in Guildford with kick-off at 4.15pm.

“We haven’t played for so long,” Naiqama said.

“We had prepared really well for last weekend and there was a lot of excitement within the playing group leading into our first game.

“So, the cancellation did dampen the spirits of the boys. But between us we all said, ‘We’ve waited 12 months to get to this point, so what’s another week’.

“It could well be another blessing in disguise. We got another week to prepare to play in this competition and we did get another quality session in with the Roosters.”

The Sydney Roosters Under-21s side had an opposed session with the Silktails two weeks ago ahead of the NSWRL competitions starting up.

Naiqama called on them again last weekend. Coach Anthon Barnes used to mentor Naiqama when he was in the NRL Dragons Under 20s side.

“We did that last Saturday morning in the pouring rain,” Naiqama said.

“We played at Matraville High School as the Roosters Under 21s had their game cancelled too so they also wanted a hit-out.

“We got a lot out of that, breaking it up into different game-style scenarios. But we also let things flow with some solid set-for-set footy to work on the ruck speed and control.”

Naiqama got to rotate his players and thankfully, picked up no injuries ahead of the game against Saints tomorrow.

“I’ve stuck with the same side as last week,” Naiqama said.

“But the boys that aren’t in that 18, they still know I’m willing to make any late changes.

“It’s good we’ve got the depth in the club so the boys that aren’t named can keep applying pressure on those who are.”

The coach is eager to show rugby league fans and supporters how hard his squad has been working.

“It’s exciting we get to play there first-up,” Naiqama said.

“We got a decent turnout, more than 500 people, for our trial game against the Mascot Jets.

“And daily our membership numbers are growing so it’s a good chance to showcase to our supporters what the team has got in store for them this year.”

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.