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Fiji Time: 6:59 AM on Monday 21 April

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Toa backlash

Emoni Narawa
Friday, January 03, 2014

VODAFONE Fiji Bati star Kevin Naiqama expects a backlash during the Pacific Test against traditional rivals Samoa if he is released by his new Penrith Panthers club.

Naiqama, who joins the Panthers this season from the Newcastle Knights, says he would love to represent Fiji in the Pacific Test in a bid to qualify for the Four Nations tournament. But, he adds, club commitments could prevent Fiji's NRL players from playing against Samoa in April.

"Yeah, I'm just hoping my club will release me to play for Fiji against Samoa," he said.

"Because this match falls in our busy NRL season, I am not sure whether our clubs will release us to play for Fiji. They might fear injuries to some players but I am keeping my fingers crossed."

The utility back, who joins his older brother Wes at the Panthers, said he would give it his best if given the opportunity to play.

Fiji knocked Samoa out of the Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals last November, and Naiqama is optimistic Fiji could have the advantage over the Toa Samoa. "If my club releases me and other NRL boys, then we can expect another tough clash against Samoa, otherwise it will be too bad for us NRL boys who will want to be part of the match.

"The world cup game is history. I think we can beat them again but we need to start preparing now because it is still a long time away from the match."

Naiqama spent the festive season in Fiji. Today he flies back to Australia to join the Panthers ahead of the new season.

"I'm looking forward to going back and preparing for the NRL season. I just want to impress the coach and the management when I join my club because I want to have more game time.

"I had limited time on the field at Newcastle, so I'll want to prove myself with the Panthers."