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Silktails warming to challenges

Heaters have been placed in each room and the electric blankets are on order … the Kaiviti Silktails are warming up on and off the field.

Three wins and three losses – one by a single point – in the Ron Massey Cup so far shows the players have adapted well to Rugby League Australian-style.

But the Fijians are finding the cooler autumn months tricky in their Sydney accommodation.

“The weather has impacted them. It’s come as quite a shock to the boys and they’ve been told the worst is yet to come,” coach Wes Naiqama said of his squad of 28 players – nearly half of whom had never been outside Fiji before arriving in Sydney in January.

“But our chairman Petero (Civoniceva) has been good and decked out all the boys’ units with heaters last week. And we’ve got some electric blankets on the way.

“Hopefully the boys feel nicely warmed up for our Round Nine game this week,” Naiqama said.

They will play in Saturday’s 4pm match against Ryde-Eastwood Hawks at Belmore Oval, which will be live-streamed by NSWRL-TV.

The climate is not deterring the players from showing their skills. They took a 14-4 lead over Cabramatta in last week’s round 8 to a 38-14 win producing six tries – two in the opening 10 minutes.

“The start was better but we still came up with a play-the-ball error in the second set. It’s just those little concentration things… giving away a few ruck penalties but we’re improving,” Naiqama said.

“The backbone of all our wins is that we’ve come home strong. Physically our fitness levels are where we want them to be but at certain points in the game we’re still not putting the ball where we want it to be.

“So our game management still needs some work.”

Naiqama is still tinkering with fullback. Ropate Tobe took over from Ratu Temesia Jilivecevece in Round Five and then in Round Eight five-eighth Mosese Qionimacawa started at No.1.

“We weren’t too confident we’d get Ropate through the game with the cramps he was having at training,” Naiqama said.

“So we started Mosese at fullback and brought Ropate off the bench in the second half, which he did pretty well. We’re looking to do that again this week.”

The Silktails are looking to dedicate this Mother’s Day weekend game to “all the mums back in Fiji”.

NSWRL-TV is live-streaming three Silktails games this 2021 season - the others planned are in Round 14 and Round 19.


The Silktails’ participation in the NSWRL’s Ron Massey Cup is proudly supported by the Australian Government through PacificAus Sports.