Castleford Tigers speedster Jason Qareqare is hoping to make the Fiji squad for this autumn’s Pacific Championships with the ultimate aim of playing in the next World Cup.
The 19-year-old winger, who is the son of a British Army soldier, was born in the city of Lautoka before moving to Germany and then England.
Qareqare played football, rugby union and rugby league growing up – and was inspired to pursue the latter after watching the Fiji Bati when they came over to England during the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
The Fijian flier came through the Castleford Tigers academy ranks, making his first team debut as a 17-year-old in 2021.
Qareqare has since gone on to score 13 tries in 19 senior appearances for the Tigers, and made his international debut for Fiji in a World Cup warm-up match against England last autumn, although didn’t make the final cut for the World Cup squad.
Qareqare is also eligible play to represent England having spent a large part of his life in Yorkshire – but he says he wants to continue to play for his birth country after being inspired by the Bati during the 2013 World Cup.
“I think when it comes down to that I think I’d just stick and play for Fiji,” Qareqare said in Castleford’s press conference ahead of their trip to Wigan on Friday night.
“Growing up, watching them come over to the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, that was an experience for me and that really inspired me to push on in rugby league. If they didn’t come over to England I don’t think I’d be in the position I’m in now.
“They really inspired me to play rugby so I’m forever in debt to them, so I think with that question (of playing for England or Fiji), I don’t really think any amount of money can change the way I feel about the way I feel about playing for Fiji.
“Pulling on that jersey is a really proud moment for me and my family.”
Castleford Tigers winger Jason Qareqare targets more Fijian caps this autumn
Fiji are participating in the inaugural Pacific Championships this autumn alongside Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands.
The Bati face Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands in Port Moresby in late October, with Qareqare hoping to play a part.
He said: “There’s a Pacific nations tournament obviously happening in Papua New Guinea in mid-October, so to get the call for that would really mean a lot to me and mean quite a lot to my family as well. That could be the start of a really good future for me with Fiji.”
The Castleford wideman has a burning desire to play at the next World Cup in 2026, representing his country and heritage.
He added: “Every lad – whether it is football or rugby – the World Cup is the best of the best, the best players of each nation come together and play each other so that would be the main goal for me.”