The Kaiviti Silktails are battling an injury crisis as they try to maintain a top-five position on the Ron Massey Cup ladder and play finals football for the first time.
Captain and prop Apakuki Tavodi is the most serious casualty with a dislocated knee-cap and medial ligament damage which has ruled him out for the rest of the season.
Winger Viliame Tutuvili has a sprained ankle he’s receiving treatment for with the hope he can return for the final game against Mounties on 6 August.
The Silktails’ Round 18 club game against Ryde-Eastwood Hawks on Saturday 30 July at Mascot Oval is vital for the finals. The Silktails currently sit in fifth spot while Mounties and Hawks lie respectively in sixth and seventh positions.
Already two players from the Silktails original 29-member squad have returned to Fiji with season-ending injuries; alongside two others for personal reasons.
It left coach Wes Naiqama with just 22 fit players to choose from for last weekend’s Round 17 clash – a 22-12 loss to Wentworthville Magpies. The Silktails are also having to play midweek games to catch up on the postponed rounds due to bad weather earlier in the year.
Silktails Executive Director Stephen Driscoll said he hoped a few players would return from injury for the Ryde-Eastwood Hawks game this weekend.
“If we had a full complement of players things would be a lot easier,” he said.
“But on the bright side I want to pay tribute to the players because we’ve got 13 players under the age of 21 that have been playing Ron Massey Cup.
“And last weekend we had three players eligible for SG Ball play for us.”
They are centre Simione Cakau, hooker Iobe Taukeisalili, and prop Watisoni Waqanisaravi, who are all under 19. Waqanisaravi was further rewarded with selection for the Sydney Roosters Jersey Flegg Cup team that beat the Raiders 40-14 in Canberra on 9 July.
“They’ve really stepped up for us those three young kids,” Driscoll said.
Despite some of the hardships, Silktails wingers Tutuvili and Osea Natoga sit equal third on the Ron Massey Cup try scorers list with eight tries apiece; while Waqanisaravi and second-rower Meli Nasau are equal-sixth with five tries each.
“It’s given the club great faith in the direction we’re following with our youth policy, where we want the majority of our 2023 Silktails squad to be under 23 years,” Driscoll said.
“We weren’t really sure how these younger kids would handle it and they’ve actually stepped up to the plate, thrived and succeeded.
“We had another of our younger players - 21-year-old Rusiate Baleitamavua - playing through the (28-18) win over St Marys the week before (16 July) with a broken nose.”
Next season the Silktails hope to play their 10 home games in Lautoka, Fiji, after spending the 2021 and 2022 seasons living in Sydney due to the COVID travel restrictions and protocols.
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.