Civoniceva ready to help break union’s Fiji strangehold

Former Kangaroos star Petero Civoniceva is confident that a New South Wales Cup team based in Fiji will help to break the hegemony of the other code in the country.

A team from Suva is set to join the NSW Cup in 2017, and Civoniceva expects the lure of rugby league to tempt the locals away from the 15-man code.

Fijian-born stars like Parramatta winger Semi Radradra and Melbourne’s Marika Koroibete are also providing budding Fijian league players with role models to follow.

“The way the game has grown in Fiji has been phenomenal and the interest of rugby league and players like Semi Radradra and Marika Koroibete has certainly helped that,” Civoniceva told NRL.com.

“I know we’re trying to create an opportunity for the local players to come across and hopefully we’ll be seeing another Semi or another Marika. That’s the most exciting thing about it; they’re building those pathways for these players.

“Rugby union is Fiji‘s number one code but the tide is certainly starting to turn because of the amount of rugby league that’s shown on free-to-air TV, and there’s interest there from the young players now wanting to participate in rugby league.

“Bringing a NSW Cup side into the country will only lessen Union’s stranglehold on the country.”

Civoniceva accepts that there is still a long road ahead for the Pacific nation to be one of RL’s top international teams, but he points at the success of Samoa in last year’s Four Nations as a template to follow.

“We have been buoyed by the success we had in the last World Cup but obviously there’s a long way to go if we are to compete with the likes of New Zealanders and the Australians,” he said.

“It’s been amazing to see what Samoa did at the past Four Nations so it gives us hope and we’re definitely on the right track.

“[The NSW Cup team hope] all looks really positive. We’re just waiting I guess for the green light from the NRL and NSWRL.

“We’re working really hard in the background trying to build on our progress and hopefully we’ll be pushing to play in the 2017 season.”

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