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Earning promotion crucial for Bati World Cup hopes-Naiqama

November 10, 2019 11:38 am

Fiji Bati captain Kevin Naiqama says securing promotion to Pool A of next year’s Oceania Cup will provide the preparation they need for  the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

Fiji edged out Papua New Guinea 22-20 in an entertaining Test on Saturday in Christchurch, which saw seven tries scored and the lead change hands four times.

The Bati are now assured of playing international big guns New Zealand and Tonga next year.

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“There’s no secret around what we want to achieve moving forward to the next World Cup,” Naiqama said.

“We want to win it and the only way we are going to get that opportunity is to play tier-one nations.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to play New Zealand and Tonga who are going to be heavyweights in that next World Cup.”

Bati coach Brandon Costin said in addition to earning promotion this year, he has been able to blood a handful of new players who will play crucial roles in their run to the World Cup alongside established stars such as Viliame Kikau and Maika Sivo.

“To be able to play in three and win three [Tests] this year, to be able to develop and nurture some young talent like Siti Moceidreke, Joe Lovodua and Brandon Wakeham,” Costin said.

“Those three players are probably going to take us to the next World Cup.

“They need that experience next year, they really need it.

“So it’s the absolute best thing for Fiji Bati.”

Naiqama singled out Storm giant Tui Kamikamica for praise, following another dominant performance from the prop which saw him run for 183 metres and make 31 tackles to go with his first-half try.

It came after he ran for 192 metres in the 44-18 drubbing of Samoa a week earlier in Auckland.

“We call him the Taveuni Terminator [in reference to the Fijian island he was born on], he just goes 100 miles an hour and doesn’t stop. We as a team definitely appreciate him,” Naiqama said.

“Him and Kane Evans really set the platform and the foundation for us.

“Tui brings a lot of experience, especially coming from the Melbourne system… the young boys are benefitting from it.”

The loss is Papua New Guinea’s second in a row after they were outclassed by Samoa 24-6 in June this year, but they will get another shot at a win next week when they host the touring Great Britain Lions in Port Moresby.

While he rued a number of missed opportunities and untimely errors, Kumuls captain Rhyse Martin said his side showed impressive character to stay in the contest regardless.

Following each of Fiji’s first three tries the Kumuls hit back with one of their own within four minutes, meaning they were always in the contest.

“I think we did well to stay in that game to be honest,” Martin said.

“A lot of incomplete sets and we didn’t build any pressure when we had good field position.

“But I can’t fault the boys’ effort, we kept turning up for each other.

“We were down and beat but someone would turn up and make that try-saving tackle or make that one carry to get us out of yardage and on the front foot again.

“There’s a lot of positives, we put ourselves out of that game, but we did well to finish [only] two points behind.”

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