The Fiji Kava Kaiviti Silktails touched down in Sydney this week with little time to rest as they were back on the training park the following day.
Silktails chairman Petero Civoniceva said the squad – minus eight players who are still in isiolation in Nadi after returning positive COVID-19 tests – arrived on Tuesday night with coach Wes Naiqama doing an induction and field session on Wednesday morning. Gym training followed after lunch.
“It’s straight back to work, which is great,” Civoniceva said.
“They’ve settled back into their accommodation with our General Manager Jacquie Shannon doing an amazing job co-ordinating everything for the players; bringing them from our High Performance Centre in Lautoka to our base in Sydney.
“It’s been a challenging pre-season already to deal with COVID and all its ramifications. But we’re back now so it’s full team ahead with preparations for the 2022 Ron Massey Cup season.”
Naiqama has further help this year with another former Fiji Bati player in former NRL centre Daryl Millard coming on board as assistant coach.
Millard played for the St George Illawarra Dragons, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and South Sydney Rabbitohs, as well as five years in Super League with Wakefield Trinity and Catalans.
“It’s a great acquisition for us having a player with Daryl’s first grade experience on top of his nine games for the Bati across four years,” Civoniceva said.
Team physio, Isaiah Elder, and Strength and Conditioning coach, Sainiani Ledua, have returned for a second Ron Massey Cup season. Ledua is one of the few females in that role in rugby league.
“She is amazing in what she did for us last year and having had that experience she will get the team to a good level again this time,” Civoniceva said.
There are 17 new faces as the Fiji Kava Kaiviti Silktails focus more this season on development after bringing a squad of largely Under 23s players here. There are nine players over that age in the 30-man squad for 2022, but for the 2023 season is planning to solely rely on the Under 23s.
They have returned to their Kingsford accommodation units and the training facilities at the Eastern Suburbs PCYC in southern Sydney.
The entire playing group is also operating under a ‘No Study, No Play’ policy for 2022.
“We’ve got a good core of senior players that have come back to help with all our new, younger players,” Civoniceva said.
“In doing that it’s a good challenge for our group to gel and train well in the lead-up to round one.
“We’re excited at some of the prospects we have this season.”
Several Silktails played and trained with the Roosters Jersey Flegg and The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup sides in 2021.
Last year’s “Clubman of the Year” and Silktails foundation player, prop Apakuki Tavodi, has been appointed club captain for 2022.