The Kaiviti Silktails have had to cancel plans to play the last round of the Ron Massey Cup competition back in Fiji.
Instead the Silktails will play their remaining club games in Sydney in a bid to push for a place in the finals starting 13-14 August.
“There were some timelines that have now passed and some logistics we just couldn’t get on top of,” Silktails Executive Director Steve Driscoll said.
The initial plan was to play Rounds 16, 17 and 18 back home after nearly two years being based in Sydney because of COVID-19 travel restrictions and protocols.
That was then reduced to just having their Round 18 game against the Ryde-Eastwood Hawks on 30 July played at Churchill Park, Lautoka – the Silktails home ground.
“But we just couldn’t make it happen,” Driscoll said.
“The boys are very disappointed as friends and families back home were as excited as us to showcase what a great club the Silktails are.”
The Wes Naiqama-coached side sits in sixth spot on the Ron Massey Cup, one win outside the top-five that will be the cut-off for the finals.
There are four rounds and two rain-postponed games still to play.
“So, there’s 12 points on offer which still has us in a strong position to progress,” Driscoll said.
But the cancelled Lautoka game is a blow for the squad, who two weeks ago lost their Football Manager Jacquie Shannon, 57, unexpectedly.
“There’s been a lot going around the club this year and the recent passing of Jacqui hit everyone very hard,” Driscoll said.
“The return home was going to give us the chance to pay tribute to her and celebrate her life. But we will plan to do that now in the 2023 season.
“The focus now is just to finish the year strongly and get into that top-five.
“Considering all the challenges we’ve faced this year, Wes and (assistant coach) Daryl Millard have done so well. The biggest losing margin for us this year has only been eight points.
“Although we’ve lost games to teams below us on the table, we have pushed the Hills Bulls and St Marys to the very end.
“As long as we can stay injury-free, we can really do something this year. We’re the sort of team that in the finals no-one wants to come up against because we’re capable of beating anyone.”
The Silktails have lost four players in 2022 – two returned home for personal reasons, while Manoa Satala (syndesmosis) and Filimoni Temumunasau (knee) had season-ending injuries.
A squad of 25 players remains to see out the Ron Massey Cup competition.