Naiqama backing Fiji to have side in NSW Cup

West Tigers centre Kevin Naiqama has been stressing the importance for Fiji to have a representative team in the NSW Cup.

Naiqama has made reference to the success of the Papua New Guinea Kumuls test team as a result of Papua New Guinea having a team, the PNG Hunters, in the Queensland Intrust Super Cup since 2014.

There is a bid to have a Fijian team in the NSW Cup which is being led by Australian and Fijian rugby league legend Petero Civoniceva and a decision is expected soon on whether or not they are to be in the newly branded Intrust Super Premiership. 

This has been further backed by Naiqama, who says it’s more important for Fiji to have a similar team in the NSW Cup in the future to improve their chances in the future.

“I totally agree with getting the Fijian boys to that level,” Naiqama said to NRL.com

“NSW Cup is no park footy, you’ve got first graders playing in that and full time people playing in that comp so getting Fijian people exposed to that comp will only better the country in helping them moving forward to compete with the ‘Big Three’ (Australia, New Zealand and England) and making us a competitive side.

“I was talking to Petero and he reckons we’re not too far from getting an answer and if we can get that going I definitely think we’ll be a nation to watch out for going into the World Cup next year.”

Naiqama said the chance for local Fijian players to mix it with NRL players at the recent camp had in itself boosted the confidence of those players, and the eye-catching efforts of winger Etuate Qionimacawa in scoring a hat-trick of tries is testament to this.

“He’s one of the locals from Fiji so with me not playing it gave him the opportunity to play. He scored three tries which was real good, he was real happy playing at that level and that’s what it’s about, giving people opportunities. That might get his foot in the door with some clubs,” Naiqama added.

“There’s untapped talent back in Fiji and if they can get that NSW Cup team going next year it will be positive signs for our country moving forward and also spreading the game in Fiji.”

The improvement of the Papua New Guinea team Naiqama said came as a direct result of the players having more of knowledge of the Australian game.

Them being in that comp, I think it educates them as well. When you think about it Australia is probably the toughest comp when it comes to rugby league and giving the PNG Hunters exposure to that sort of rugby league, it definitely makes them better,” he said.

“When they played on the weekend, usually you’re used to seeing them rush out and bash up people but there was also some structure to the way they played which is a credit to them being in that comp, they’ve learned that. They’ve come such a long way so it’s really good.”

The West Tigers centre unfortunately had to miss his countries loss against Papua New Guinea because of a slight groin injury he picked up during the Tigers round nine game against South Sydney Rabbitohs. He hopes to be fit for the Tigers next match against Canterbury Bulldogs. But he did call the day a success.

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