Kaiviti Silktails head coach Wes Naiqama has agreed to terms for season 2022 with the former NRL and Fiji Bati star again leading the team in the NSWRL Ron Massey Cup.
It will be the third season for the Silktails in the Australian domestic competition but neither 2020, or 2021 could be completed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Silktails did enjoy a 6-7 record from 13 matches and were sitting in sixth place on the ladder.
There will be some significant changes for the Fijian club, which returned home in early August after the Ron Massey Cup final rounds were cancelled alongside other NSWRL competitions.
The players will begin their pre-season in Fiji at one of the three high-performance academies there in Lautoka, Sigatoka, or Suva – a fourth is set to open in Ra next year. They will travel back to Sydney in late December-early January.
They will continue to be based out of the Eastern Suburbs PCYC but will have a new fit out of their training facility following approval of their Development Application with the local council.
In 2022, the Silktails will be predominantly an Under 23s side – with a concession to have a maximum of eight players over that age in the 30-man squad. From the 2023 season, the Silktails will be an Under 23s side only.
“The Under 23s format will be a Silktails-only criteria to make the team,” said Stephen Driscoll, who shifts from the Interim CEO role in 2021 to Executive Director in 2022.
“This is just to streamline our pathways program and strengthen our strategic focus on being a development club.”
Other staff changes see 2021 Staff Member of the Year Jacqui Shannon promoted to the role of General Manager.
As part of that program the Silktails have revamped their Elite Development Pathway (EDP) squads for Under 21s only, and will be launching an Under 18s academy program in 2022 that will target players in the Fiji Secondary Schools system. Peni Tikosaya has been appointed Head of Pathways.
The Silktails will also be introducing a train-and-study initiative for season 2022 with both players and staff completing part-time courses as part of the club’s “No Study, No Play” policy.
In other personnel news, the 2021 Clubman of the Year and Silktails foundation player, prop Apakuki Tavodi, has been appointed club captain. Tavodi will play a pivotal role in setting up the newest high-performance centre in his home province of Ra.
And 2021 ‘Rising Star’ Vuate Karawalevu will return to Sydney in late October to begin training with the Sydney Roosters NRL Squad in November.
The 20-year-old winger-centre played seven games for the Silktails (three tries) and five for the Roosters Jersey Flegg side (nine tries).
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.
Click here for more information on PacificAus Sports.