Silktails Enjoy First Pre-Season In Fiji In Three Years

The Kaiviti Silktails reacquaint themselves with Sydney, when they play their round one match of the 2023 Leagues Clubs Australia Ron Massey Cup season against new team Penrith Brothers.

This is the fourth year the Fijian side has been part of the NSWRL competition, but it’s the first time in three years they have enjoyed a full pre-season at their Lautoka headquarters.

“It’s an exciting time for the club. Things got off to a rough start with COVID playing havoc with our first two seasons,” said head coach and former NRL star Wes Naiqama.

“We were so close to finals last year and we want to go one better this year.”

For 2021 and 2022 the Silktails made Sydney’s Mascot Oval their home ground and the Daceyville PCYC their training facility.

They may be playing round one of the Ron Massey Cup back in Sydney but round two and a further nine games will be held in Fiji.

“We’ve done our first pre-season at home so players were close to their families and the club now has a visible presence in the community,” Naiqama said.

“There’s been far more interest with local businesses, schools and other groups in the area which we didn’t have the past two years.”

The Silktails playing squad of 22 has only half-a-dozen players aged above 23 years as the board progresses its policy of being a development club.

They played two trial games in Fiji: a 16-6 win over the Western Maroons and a 26-12 loss to the QRL side, the PNG Hunters, in the inaugural Melanesian Bowl.

“I was very proud of the boys as we’ve got our youngest squad yet and they were able to take it to the Hunters, who have been an established team in the QRL for almost 10 years now (entered 2015) winning the Q-Cup in 2017,” Naiqama said.

“Regardless of the score line we took a lot of positives out of that and have had two weeks to work on what we need to be better at.”

Naiqama has warned his players about taking Penrith Brothers too lightly. The club makes its debut in the Leagues Clubs Australia Ron Massey Cup this year after being runners-up in the Sydney Shield – next tier down – in 2022.

They finished fifth after the regular season but made a brilliant run to reach the Grand Final against St Marys.

With that in mind, Naiqama has kept the same attacking spine from the Melanesian Bowl, with reliable fullback Osea Natoga (pictured above) steadying the Fiji ship, while featuring newcomer to the Silktails, hooker Naisa Toko.

“He’s a new recruit, scored our first try against the Hunters, and there’s not much of him,” he said.

“But he gets through a tonne of work and throws his body in front of anyone who comes his way.”

The round one match is at Cabramatta’s New Era Stadium on Sunday (19 March) at 3pm.

This article was written by NSWRL.

The Silktails’ participation in the NSWRL’s Leagues Clubs Australia 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 competition.