TWO Fassifern footballers are close to their goal of playing in this year's rugby league World Cup.
It proves the decision of Kali Nauqe and Nemani Valekapa to leave their native Fiji to join the Fassifern Bombers in the Ipswich Rugby League was worth it.
Nauqe played for the Queensland Fiji team in Sydney this week to push for a spot in the Fijian World Cup squad.
Queensland Fiji tackles NSW Country Fiji in a tournament that includes NSW Fiji and New Zealand Fiji. From there, a team will be picked to tour Fiji to play a Resident Fijian side.
The best players from that game will round off the Fijian World Cup squad, for which 11 NRL players have already been chosen.
Valekapa was down to play alongside Nauqe for Queensland Fiji, but his call-up to the Ipswich Jets Queensland Cup team in place of the suspended centre Donald Malone means he has a higher calling at present.
It is believed his role in the Jets' finals campaign will help, rather than hinder, his prospects of making the World Cup squad.
Both Nauqe and Valekapa were squad members at the 2008 World Cup, but not part of the top 17.
Nauqe, who plays halfback for Fassifern, was back-up hooker.
The player ahead of him is no longer in the picture so he hopes he can cement the starting spot.
The only problem is he will be playing his first football in more than a month after having his jaw broken against West End on July 28.
But Nauqe has recovered. He is confident the gym work he has been putting in will be sufficient.
He and Valekapa followed similar roads to Fassifern but their paths have diverged this season.
Nauqe shared his countryman's ambitions to try for the Ipswich Jets Queensland Cup squad when they attended pre-season training almost a year ago.
But injury interrupted Nauqe's pre-season so he decided to focus on the Bombers in 2013 and try again next season.
Valekapa believes Nauqe has what it takes to play for the Jets.
"I feel for my mate here," Valekapa said.
"He was at the level to play Queensland Cup before his injury."
Valekapa rates his best position for Fiji as fullback. It is where he played mostly for Fassifern before joining the Jets, where he has played wing and centre.
He doesn't see any concerns with having to play fullback again.
Nauqe believes fullback is his mate's best position, because it suits one of his great strengths, his support play.
The pair used to play against each other in Fiji before they moved to Australia and linked with the Bombers.
"All the hard work we've done. I don't regret it," Valekapa said.
"We're so lucky."