FIRST-TIMER to Fiji Tariq Sims said he was blown away by the patriotism shown by the locals during the Fiji Day celebrations yesterday.
Tariq is one of three Sims brothers that will represent the Vodafone Fiji Bati side at the Rugby League World Cup in England later this month.
The Fiji Bati side was present at the Independence Day celebrations at the Albert Park in Suva where they greeted fans and signed autographs.
Tariq said the support of the public boosted the morale of the players ahead of their departure.
"It has been an absolutely beautiful experience," he said.
"The support has been so huge and the turnout was really good. The people are so patriotic."
He added the presence of children at the celebrations was really good to watch.
"It's my first time to be in the country and to be part of the Fiji Day celebrations was so awesome.
"Lots of kids turned up here today and they were all wearing the colour blue.
"The weather did not prevent the people from coming out and to the kids, well they are the future generation of players for the country and it was really great watching them celebrate Fiji Day."
Four sets of brothers will represent the country at the World Cup.
Ashton, Korbin and Tariq make up the Sims brothers, Ryan and Darryl make up the Millard brother, Tani brothers Alipate and Kaliova from Namatakula and Wes and Kevin Naiqama.