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No overseas players for Commonwealth Games team

Moiz Munif
Thursday, February 01, 2018

EXPECT no National Rugby League (NRL) stars to be part of the Vodafone Fiji Bati side for the Commonwealth 9s championship later this month.

Timoci Naleba, the Fiji National Rugby League (FNRL) chief executive officer said the idea was to field a local-based side in a bid to expose them to high level competition.

"There will be no overseas players participating there (CW 9s), all local boys are going to participate.

"We want to introduce them now so that we can build them slowly towards 2021 (Rugby League World Cup)," Naleba said.

Fourteen teams will be part of the 9s championship to be held in Queensland, February 23-24 which will run as an exhibition for the 2018 Commonwealth Games held later in April.

The competition being an under-23 age-group one would have seen a few Fiji Bati 2017 Rugby League World Cup reps with players such as Bill Kikau, Salesi Faigaa, Joe Lovodua, Ben Nakubuwai and Marcello Montoya to name a few eligible to participate.

Meanwhile Naleba said they planned to take a similar approach of a local dominated team if the bid towards the New South Wales Cup competition was successful.

"The aim is to have all locals making up the NSW cup team because of the idea that once we assemble a team, we assemble a team here and it becomes the team that represents grassroots and those that are keeping the sport alive here and to be able to do that, we need good players," Naleba said.

"With this increased amount of sponsorship we should be able to allocate funds for academy players, elite players that we can keep and train them off season for four years and make up the Fiji Bati team for 2021."

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