Timoci Duve To Spearhead Silktails Recruitment Model

Former Fiji Secondary Schools National Coach and current Kaiviti Silktails Assistant Coach Timoci Duve will spearhead the Kaiviti Silktails newly announced Recruitment Model that will begin scouting the country in search of the best elite talent.

The model will see the club form its new Recruitment and Retention Committee that also will include Silktails Chairman Petero Civoniceva, Executive Director Stephen Driscoll, Fiji Bati National Coaching Director Wise Kativerata and Sydney Roosters Junior Recruitment and Player Development Manager Dean Feeney.

Image: Wes Naiqama, Wise Kativerata, Stephen Driscoll and Petero Civoniceva

Former S&C Coach Rusi Ratukana will return to the club as an Assistant Coach after Captaining the Fiji Bati SPG Squad in the Solomon Islands at the end of last year. Former Club Captain Rusi Baleitamavua will also be returning as an Assistant Coach after suffering a season ending ACL injury during training with the Sydney Roosters NSW Cup team in the pre-season.

Image: Rusi Ratukana and Rusi Baleitamavua

In an aggressive play by the Lautoka-based club to attract the best young players to play Rugby League in the world’s toughest U/21’s competition, Duve will work on the front line alongside a team of scouts and pathway coaches as part of the clubs Elite Development Pathway Program. The Silktails have established training hubs at its Centre of Excellence in Lautoka, Sigatoka Methodist College on the Coral Coast, Ra High School in Ra, The University of the South Pacific in Suva, RKS College in Tailevu and most recently in Labasa, Vanua Levu.

Timoci Duve is excited by his new appointment and after spending his first 6 months with the club, he can see the opportunity the Silktails bring to young players coming out of the Fiji Secondary Schools competition.

“A lot of our players would play Rugby League during school but would go back to Rugby Union as there was nothing in place to capture the best talent for young kids wanting to play Rugby League at an Elite Level. For a select few there was the chance to go to Australia for trials with clubs, but nothing that would give them the chance to complete back-to-back pre-seasons. This along with a full 24 round season plus finals against the 12 NRL clubs in Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle, Canberra and New Zealand. There is nothing in Fiji that can offer that opportunity to a 16 year old kid from the village” said the former Ba Provincial Teacher.

With the Silktails being accepted into the Jersey Flegg competition in mid-December they assembled a young squad that they can mould for the next two to three seasons, but the challenge is to ensure that a pipeline of players within their EDP hubs that can come physically ready to perform at the level required when called into Wes Naiqama’s Extended Squad.

Silktails Chairman Petero Civoniceva – who is a product of the Brisbane Broncos system headed up by the legendary Cyril Connell, has put together a model that he feels will replicate a program that helped him go on to be not only a Broncos NRL player, but become one of QLD and Australia’s most capped forwards including captaining the Fiji Bati to the 2013 World Cup where they were semi-finalists.

“Having someone at the face of our recruitment in Master Timoci Duve brings that feel that I know I got when Cyril first came and met my parents to sign me to the Broncos. Ensuring that we as a club want to develop the person first and the players second is what we want to do and to sell that to the parents of the young kids we attract to our club. The rest of the committee will come in as needed by Duve to outline what is needed to make it to the Silktails, to become a Fiji Bati and hopefully one day an NRL player” said Civoniceva.

Fijian-born Executive Director Stephen Driscoll, who has worked as an S&C Coach at the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Gold Coast Titans, Sydney Roosters, NSW Origin Team, Indigenous All Stars and the Fiji Bati likens the Silktails program as Fiji’s equivalent to America’s College Football Program, with its combined focus on football and education.

He along with National Coach Wise Kativerata share similar views on the sort of player that is required to make it in what they both describe as ‘the toughest game in the world’. That alongside having Dean Feeney on the committee who has coached and recruited at this Elite Pathway level for over 20 seasons. He has also during his time at the Parramatta Eels worked with Semi Radradra, Maika Sivo and Solomon Naiduki and more recently with Vuate Karawalevu, Watisoni Waqanisaravi, Iobe Taukeisalili, Sirilo Lovokuro and Meli Nasau at the Sydney Roosters.

Image: Dean Feeney, Watisoni Waqanisaravi, Tom Seru, Stephen Driscoll and Simone Cakauniqio

“Wise, Dean and myself share like-minded thoughts on the qualities required on the type of player from Fiji required to make it into the Elite Pathways Level and the NRL. I have a long standing relationship with Wise that goes back to 2006 during his time at the Rabbitohs and as part of the Fiji Bati in 2007. Wise has some great theories on the places to find these players and is extremely passionate about scouting the untapped villages and outer islands of Fiji. Combining Wise’s unique knowledge there with what Dean and I know is required on a week-to-week basis at an Elite Pathways level we feel will help us get the right kids to be part of our footy program” said Driscoll.

Image: Stephen Driscoll and Vuate Karawalevu

The Silktails play the Canberra Raiders this Saturday in Nadi and then break for the Bye round. A review will be conducted in the Bye week with the Football Department of the year so far to focus on some short term goals to get the Silktails their first win as well as planning a meeting with NSWRL to potentially enter a team into their Junior Representative Competitions.

In more positive news, the club will also be announcing a new Naming Rights Partner for their Centre of Excellence building in Lautoka that same week.