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Tuqiri to join Bati

Emoni Narawa
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

DUAL international Lote Tuqiri will represent the Vodafone Fiji Bati rugby league in the qualifying match for the Four Nations Championship against Pacific rival Samoa next month.

The team will be skippered by North Queensland Cowboys forward Ashton Sims and assisted by Tikiko Noke.

Tuqiri, who represented Australia in both codes — union and rugby league — has been named in the Fiji Bati team along side several other National Rugby League (NRL) players such as Kevin Naiqama, Semi Radradra, Korbin Sims and Marika Koroibete.

The local trio of Osea Sadrau, Tikiko Noke and Atunaisa Turagaiviu will be flying to Australia tomorrow to join head coach Rick Stone and the other Bati players.

Vodafone Fiji Bati assistant coach Jo Rabele said the match would be crucial to determine Fiji's fate in participating at the Four Nations against rugby league powerhouses, England, New Zealand and world champions, the Kangaroos.

"This is a very important match for us," Rabele said.

"Rick (Stone) has given his team which includes several NRL players and that includes Lote. Rick knows how important this game is and we're not taking our approach lightly."

Rabele said Tuqiri's experience would be a huge boost to the national rugby league side. The Namatakula man, who is contracted with South Sydney Rabbitohs, has 155 NRL games under his belt, 67 Test caps for the Wallabies and nine caps for the Kangaroos. He last represented Fiji when he captained the Bati side at the 2000 Rugby League World Cup.

At last year's RLWC, Fiji defeated Toa Samoa to qualify for the semi-finals, a repeat of the 2008 RLWC in Australia.

"Samoa will be in full force. They will be very tough to beat and already we know that they will also field all NRL players for this very crucial game.

"We have only three local players that will be joining the team in Australia and we're hoping for the best in this game."

Bati Squad: Kevin Naiqama, Marika Koroibete, Lote Tuqiri, Sisa Waqa, Eto Nabuli, Alipate Tani, Aaron Groom, Ashton Sims, James Storer, Kane Evans, Jason Bukuya, Korbin Sims, Semi Radradra, Apisai Koroisau, Vitale Roqica, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Peni Botiki, Kali Tani, Tikiko Noke, Atunaisa Turagaiviu, Osea Sadrau.

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