Civoniceva: Fiji will be a major force once they get their foot in the NSW Cup door

Petero Civoniceva has grand plans for Fijian rugby league — Picture: Richard Walker/News Corp Australia

BRISBANE, 21 JUNE 2018 (FOX SPORTS) – Fiji is pushing hard for inclusion in next year’s Intrust Super Premiership, Petero Civoniceva revealed on Queenslanders Only.

The champion prop, who represented Fiji at the 2013 World Cup, said it was the key to unlocking the potential of the island nation.

“It’s been a long road,” Civoniceva said.

“Buoyed by the success of the Hunters, we’re going to try and emulate that.

“We’re hoping for a start in next season’s Intrust Super Premiership. If that’s not the case, we’ll definitely aim for 2020.

“We’ve got some great talks happening with the Fiji government and we’ve also talked to a couple of NRL sides about the possibility of a Fijian feeder club, being us.

“It’s very exciting times ahead.”

Fiji caused one of the upsets of the tournament at last year’s World Cup, knocking out the Kiwis in the quarter-final, and Civoniceva expects Fiji to be a major player on the world scene if they can provide a pathway for their kids through the NSW Cup.

“I think we’ll definitely be pushing those tier one nations for sure,” Civoniceva continued.

“With the calibre of players we’ve got coming through — Suliasi Vunivalu, what a superstar — and we’ve got a host of other young guys like (Viliame) Kikau who I think will be senior players who will guide the Fiji Bati.

“With the NRL coverage and getting every game into all the villages over there, kids are seeing guys like Suli and other superstars go to battle every week.

“They’re inspired and kids want to play rugby league so it’s very exciting.”

Matt Adamson, who will be stand-in coach for the Bati in this weekend’s Test against PNG, is already doing his best to provide opportunities for talented Fijian youngsters, as he can see the nation becoming the “cinderella story” of international footy.

Having coached the under 20s at the Melbourne Storm, Adamson is well-placed to cherry-pick talent in the age-group.

“It’s not just about footy,” Adamson said.

“I’m lucky to have relationships at different clubs I’ve played at.

“To look at them and say, there’s a halfback, where would he best suit with coaches and older players? Not just who is going to pay him the most money.”

Adamson is also desperate to tap into the Fijian school system at a younger age, after the likes of Suliasi Vunivalu and Marika Koroibete weren’t identified until late in their teens.

“Development is more than just plucking the kid, it’s educating the kid at a young age about body movement, how to catch a ball, how to carry it,” he said.

“If you get to them at the early stages of their career, by the time it gets to that 14-16 age group when they physically and mentally start to develop, you’re ticking the right boxes.

“There is an abundance of talent… It’s the program that has to be put in place to get more Sulis, Akuia Uates and more Kevvy Naiqamas.

“The outcome of it could be the Cinderella Story. But it takes time.”

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