The Kaitviti Silktails have made just one change for their Round Two game against the Glebe Dirty Reds on Saturday following an eight-point loss to Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles to open their 2022 Ron Massey Cup season.
Ratu Temesia Jilivecevece returns to the side on the wing after overcoming the ankle injury suffered in the pre-season trial against the Burleigh Bears in mid-February.
Jilivecevece is a seasoned fullback-winger who played seven games in the No.1 jersey last year.
Coach Wes Naiqama wants his players to be switched on and get through their sets right from the opening whistle. The Silktails found themselves down 28-0 at halftime against the Sea Eagles but won the second half 28-8.
“We had a slow start to our first half last week; were much better in the second and it was our spine that inspired the comeback with that 90-metre effort leading to Sunia Naruma’s try,” he said.
Naruma remains at five-eighth this week, with Timoci Bola at fullback, Mosese Qioimacawa at halfback and Penaia Leveleve at hooker.
“They (spine) led us out of trouble but the big emphasis this week has been to start better,” Naiqama said.
Saturday’s match against Glebe at 3pm will be the Silktails first home game at Mascot Oval. They beat Glebe twice in their 2021 matches but the Dirty Reds enjoyed a 30-24 win over the Wentworthville Magpies last weekend.
“Even the Blacktown team we played last week, there were a lot of new faces from what we saw previously,” Naiqama said.
“Like us, they have had a big turnover of players so we’re expecting a different Glebe side than last year.”
The Silktails 29-man squad has 20 fresh players who haven’t played Ron Massey Cup before.
“They were taken aback a bit by the speed of the Blacktown game,” Naiqama said.
“They said the trial game against the Burleigh Bears was nowhere near as fast so it’s a big learning curve for the boys.
“We’ve got to remember for most our team this year this is their first time in Ron Massey Cup and for six of my players that was only their second game of Rugby League.”
That half-dozen came through high school playing rugby union and then into the Silktails’ Rugby League EDP (elite development program) in Fiji.
The Silktails’ participation in the NSWRL’s Ron Massey Cup is proudly supported by the Australian Government through PacificAus Sports.
The NSWRL receives funding from the Australian Government through PacificAus Sports to support the Silktails’ participation in the NSWRL’s Ron Massey Cup.