Bati captain condemns FNRL board
Vashneel Prasad/One News
February 7, 2018 7:00 pm
Vodafone Fiji Bati captain Kevin Naiqama has called for the Fiji National Rugby League board to be voted out and re-iterated the players will boycott until they get their World Cup prize money.
New Zealand’s One News reports, Naiqama blasted the current regime as “unprofessional” as he opened up on the players’ discontent over passport, visa and payment issues during last year’s tournament.
He reveals how the squad’s player manager was sacked, while the passports of Ashton Sims, Korbin Sims and coach Mick Potter were lost – all in the first week of camp.
Forward Viliame Kikau was also close to missing their semi-final defeat to Australia after being stuck in New Zealand due to an expired visa.
He says it was really unprofessional and it’s always been like that within the FNRL.
He says what they have experienced was not good enough, and they have come to an agreement as a playing group that they will stand down from any Fiji Bati Tests until they are paid.
The players’ biggest gripe is over the late transfers of $35 allowances provided by the tournament that were believed to be topped up by the FNRL.
Naiqama claimed the delayed payments lasted the entire campaign, and almost forced the squad to pull out of an appearance before the Fijian High Commission in Canberra.
Naiqama says it was only a last-ditch meeting with the Bati’s leadership group – involving NRL stars Jarryd Hayne, Akuila Uate and Api Koroisau – that prevented a possible revolt.
But it is the failure to pass on the $125,000 prize money from reaching the semi-finals that was the final straw for the playing group, and Naiqama said the players’ demanded change.
Naiqama says there was a contract they signed that has everything in black-and-white.
The Sydney based players says FNRL was happy to give them 100 per cent of the prize money and it’s something they have not received.
He said they had countless meetings with Chief Executive Officer Timoci Naleba and FNRL Chairperson Filimoni Vosarogo which they thought went really well, but ended up as blatant lies.
Naiqama said the group’s main concern was for the non-fulltime players.
He adds one day they actually called the FNRL office and were told the lady that was supposed to pay it didn’t want to turn up that day to put the money into the accounts.
Naiqama says the players in the squad, not many of them are on full-time contracts.
He said some are called to support for their families and were relying on that money.
Meanwhile, Naleba says Fiji Bati players who are threatening to boycott upcoming international games are welcomed to do so.