THE captains of the two teams in the Vodafone Cup rugby league final are bracing for their first ever meeting on the paddock.
Makoi Bulldogs Semi Cakau and Sabeto Roosters Apisai Nabou, both former Fiji Bati representatives, have been on the same team on a few occasions and are good friends off the field. But the two have never played against each other and will put aside their friendship for 80 minutes when they play in the grand final of the premier grade tomorrow.
The younger of the two, Cakau, 26, has been playing for the Fair Trade-sponsored Bulldogs since 2004. He was part of the side that reached the semi-finals in 2005. The Bulldogs have never been past the last four.
Now since they are both in their first ever final, he wants to win the coveted title to allow his side to have a double celebration.
"The club was formed in 2002 and this year we are celebrating our 10th anniversary so what better way to celebrate it than with a double celebration," Cakau said.
"That is why the whole team is focused on winning the title so that our celebration has double the sweetness."
He said he had reminded his players to play their cards right in the final and to not let their guard down.
Cakau said one of their key players in tomorrow's game would be five-eight Ilikena Niumatailwalu.
"The message to the team throughout training is to keep on doing what we have been doing thoughout the season.
"One of our key players this season has been Niumataiwalu and he will be the one controlling the game on Saturday. He has really matured in the position since he started with club in 2009 and his accuracy with the boot will be instrumental," he said.
Nabou is making his return to rugby league after two seasons playing rugby union in Malaysia.
The 27-year-old was not part of the side that won the 2010 title and he wants to hoist the trophy this time around.
"I do not know how they (Bulldogs) play but I know my team will be out to do better than them on Saturday," the former Sabeto Secondary School student said.
"Like he (Cakau) said the five-eights would control the game so our players Roger Qoro will be one in the middle pulling all the strings," he said.
Nabou said he would do his talking on the field but requested the backing of all Roosters fans for the final.
"We need the support so to our fans please come down and cheer for us when we play," he said.
The two teams meet at 3pm at Buckhurst Park in Suva tomorrow.