Kevin Naiqama: ‘We will continue to stand down from playing for Fiji until we get paid’

Fiji captain Kevin Naiqama says players will continue to stand down from playing for the Bati until they are paid their World Cup prize money.

The Wests Tigers ace has refused to back down from a threat made by Fiji’s World Cup stars to boycott any future internationals until the players receive their World Cup prize money.

Naiqama has been forced to get involved in negotiations to recover the $125,000 prize money on top of daily allowances still allegedly owed to them.

And the 29-year-old wants Fiji National Rugby League’s leadership board to step down unless the players will continue to refuse playing in Test matches.

Naiqama said: “We’re definitely going to continue to stand down.

“This has been going the last two World Cups before this and you think there would be a chance they would have learned from their past mistakes, but there’s been no change whatsoever.

“It’s always been an issue, but we’ve always swept it under the carpet and kept it in house. But the more we cover it up, the more they continue to walk all over us. As a playing group we decided it was enough. It’s about the future players who will represent Fiji as well as the brothers back home who play in the local league.

“They’re the ones that suffer the most and there’s a lot of boys who aren’t established first graders that are really reliant on that money to provide for their family. Now, as a captain, I’m trying to get the boys paid and it’s a hassle and something I don’t completely know about, but it’s the only way we can get the money to the playing group.

“Moving forward, the playing group has got no confidence in the leadership of the FNRL peak body and until there’s an overhaul of that leadership we’re not playing for Fiji.”

Senior Bati players such as Naiqama, Jarryd Hayne, Akuila Uate and Api Koroisau aborted a planned boycott of the Fiji High Commission during the tournament in hope that the feud would be resolved.

But almost three months after the tournament and a public statement, a frustrated Naiqama isn’t willing to back down on threats that Fiji won’t play a Test this year.

About Drew Darbyshire 8617 Articles
Love Rugby League Deputy Editor. Joined the site ahead of the 2017 World Cup and been a full-time reporter since 2018.

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