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Silktails  brandish new spine to face Panthers

An injury to captain and fullback Timoci Kotoisuava has caused a reshuffle in the Kaiviti Silktails line-up for Round Six in the NSWRL’s Jersey Flegg Cup.

Kotoisuava’s knee injury in the 36-10 loss to the Storm in Round Four could see him on the sidelines for a few weeks.

It is an unfortunate blow for the Silktails, who are playing the Penrith Panthers at Churchill Park in Lautoka on Saturday (13 April) after last week’s game against Cronulla-Sutherland in Nadi was postponed. 

Coach Wes Naiqama has switched five-eighth Brandon Saun to fullback and moved lock Senivalati Vunibola, who scored two tries against St George Illawarra in Round Three, to No.6.

“Brandon spent a lot of time at fullback in the pre-season and Senivalati has played at five-eighth  through schoolboys,” Naiqama told

“It’s changed the whole dynamic of our spine, so I’m eager to see how this plays out.”

Naiqama has been forced to make other changes to his forward pack.

Front rower Mitieli Buliciri and back rower Sakenasa Naikawakawavesi have been promoted to the starting side with prop Watisoni Waqanisaravi gaining a contract with the Sydney Roosters.

“Sonny has signed with the Roosters Jersey Flegg for the rest of the season, which is great for Sonny and another good outcome for our club,” Naiqama said.

“Mitieli gets promoted to stating prop to replace him and I’m rewarding Sakenasa to the starting team after having a strong start to the season.”

Despite the good news the Silktails are still 0-4 for the year so far, conceding 144 points to have them 13th on the ladder – one of three teams winless in 2024 alongside Parramatta and the Warriors. 

“As a team we’ve conceded way too many points so far. I can see improvements with our edge defence in being willing to scramble for one another,” Naiqama said.

“But we just need to be confident in the system and be shutting down plays. 

“We get an opportunity to get our first win this weekend and no better way to do it then at home.

“We understand it’s not just going to happen for us and we’ve got to be better with our starts to games and game management. But just like last year we want to make a challenge for travelling teams with a strong performance.”

The Silktails won seven of their nine home games in 2023. They are 0-1 in 2024 after losing their Round Two match (20-14) to South Sydney at Lautoka.


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