It looks as though the bid to host a club in Suva will be approved in the coming weeks, and Civonisceva is very excited about the team entering the competition in 2017.
“They’re very excited to hear about a bid proposal and certainly looking towards getting us into the NSW Cup competition for the 2017 season.
“We’re just waiting on approval and confirmation by the NRL, so it is very exciting and things are looking really positive and we’ve got everything in place towards getting us ready to play in the 2017 season.”
Some real work has gone into preparing the bid, with the focus very much on getting facilities and support staff up to scratch.
“Behind the scenes we’ve been working hard for almost two years trying to organise the team facilities,” Civoniceva explained.
“Tthe recruitment of players, identifying coaches, our support staff and also securing vital corporate sponsorship for this team to compete in what is a very tough competition.
“What’s helped the bid be so successful is that they’ve had a full-time training facility.
“That’s certainly helped toward the commitments the players need to make in terms of playing at such a high level.
“So, I think that’s something we definitely will replicate, and also to have some accommodation there too, so players can reside there in the facility as well.
“It’s all about getting the balance right, and making sure as players they’ve got everything they need to compete at a high level, and also knowing you have to fit into family time and any extra work they may do, any studying or part-time work, things like that.
“We’re very mindful of that, but definitely we can look toward the PNG Hunters that are an entity that have really got it right, in terms of getting their players ready to play.”
The concept of a team in Fiji is similar to the story of the PNG Hunters, who have enjoyed success in the Queensland Cup.
There are more opportuities for domestic-based Pacific players to test themselves against each other coming up too, with the Melanesian Cup set to be played for by the club champions of Fiji and PNG.
“It’s been fantastic work by the NRL to have development officers in most of the Pacific regions,” added Civoniceva.
“It’s a great way to follow up what’s been a huge groundswell of fanfare around the NRL and it’s great to see so much support for rugby league.
“It’s growing and it’s only going to continue to grow, so it’s fantastic that internationally there are opportunities for local domestic team to play at a higher level and the Melanesian Cup, it’s a great idea, a wonderful concept and it certainly gives local players an opportunity to see what it is like going up against their rivals from another Pacific country.
“So again, it’s going to further enhance the rise of the popularity of the game in the Pacific.”
The Fiji team will use a similar set-up to the Hunters, in that the players will be in camp with each other most of the time, living and training together.
This willl make travel and training much simpler to manage. The Hunters reached the 2015 preliminary final before being knocked out by the Ipswich Jets over the weekend, showing the success that the strategy can bring.
“Yeah that’s right, and we’ve basically wanted to do that,” said Civoniceva.
“How their team works, the way they do stay in camp, there are more positives and that is evident by the way they have performed this year.
“Living together, training together, helps towards building a very strong team unit and building a strong culture within a organisation.”