THE Flying Fijians rugby team is hoping to turn sorrow into happiness when they face Japan in the opening game of the Pacific Nations Cup tomorrow.
This is after the passing away of one of the new inclusions and New Zealand-based Niko Ratumaitavukis father who passed away at their home in New Zealand when the team left for Japan on Friday.
Ratumaitavuki was lining up for his first cap against Samoa next week when the sad news was relayed to the players.
He is one of the many players in the team that was looking forward to earning their first Test in the white jumper on this tour.
On behalf of the coaches, management and players I want to send our sympathy and condolence to Nikos family, Flying Fijians captain Netani Talei said.
I know it is a hard time but together as a team we are feeling the pain that they are going through, Talei said.
Niko is one of the new boys in the team and we were just trying to make him feel at home during our two weeks of camp but now it is so sad to hear about the news, he said.
Japan-based looseman Api Naikatini says the sad news was a shock to the team.
We understand the hard time Niko is going through. Niko is one easy guy to approach and talk to.
We are so sad to hear about the news and our deepest condolence is with him and the family, Naikatini said.
New Zealand-based prop Graham Dewes said they hoped Niko would join the team soon.
We are so sorry to hear about the news.
He was a bit sick after the trials before his father died. I just want to tell him be strong and our prayers are with him (Niko), Dewes said.
Talei attended Wesley College with Nikos elder brothers Sam and Matthew.
He said they would dedicate the game against Japan to the three brothers.
We give our best this weekend and give something back for Niko, Sam and Mathew to cheer them up, Talei said.