A shoulder injury to fullback Ratu Jilivecevece has prompted Kaiviti Silktails coach Wes Naiqama to tinker with his attacking spine for the Round Five clash with Glebe Dirty Reds at Mascot Oval on Saturday.
Jilivecevece could be sidelined for a month after injuring his shoulder in the 30-26 loss to Windsor Wolves last weekend, which brings in 2021 season newcomer Ropate Tobe to the No.1 jersey while captain Penioni Tagituimua has shifted from hooker to halfback.
“Ratu’s been our fullback for both our games so far,” Naiqama said.
“He got the injury in the second half, so it was pretty courageous of him to continue on.
“So Ropate gets his opportunity. They are the two fullbacks in the team and they’ve been pushing each other each week. But they are two different players.
“Jili has a bit of ‘X’ factor about him while Ropate is a more-rounded player as he plays a few different positions. And he’s got a kicking game as well which will help us as our last-play options haven’t been great.”
That’s another reason Naiqama wanted to shake up the team’s spine to get the ball out to his centres and wingers more frequently.
“We saw last weekend that once we got the ball to our edge there’s a lot of danger there,” he said.
“I feel we’ve been struggling the first two games to get the ball out wide when we needed to.”
Tagituima has gone from No.9 to No.7 and young halfback Waisale Nayavucere moves to five-eighth. The No.6 for Rounds Three and Four, Mosese Qionimacawa, has been named in the reserves.
“Waisale has done really well (at No.7) since we gave him the reins to look after this team but I feel that’s affected his personal game,” Naiqama said.
“The bulk of last year he played at five-eighth.
“I’m hoping taking a little of the responsibility away from him will allow him to play his instinctive game, which can only benefit the whole team.”
The Kaiviti Silktails turned around a 46-point deficit in round three against St Marys to a four-point loss against the Wolves in round four.
“It was a massive improvement but we still leaked 30 points which is pretty disappointing because we’re not handling things when we’re under pressure, under fatigue,” Naiqama said.
“We’ve put the players through more repetitions under fatigue. We did seven-minute defensive blocks and did that over and over.
“We had a disrupted pre-season, which I know is not an excuse, but we had a cyclone robbing us of two weeks prep in Fiji and then two weeks quarantine in Sydney. Other teams were training through that month on this new six-again rule and we missed out.
“We’re learning to cope better in training so when it happens in games it doesn’t come as a shock.”
The Silktails’ participation in the NSWRL’s Ron Massey Cup is proudly supported by the Australian Government through PacificAus Sports.
The NSWRL receives funding from the Australian Government through PacificAus Sports to support the Silktails’ participation in the NSWRL’s Ron Massey Cup.