Fiji Bati bid hits road bump

Fiji Bati coach Joe Rabele (left), manager Tevita Korosaya, Fiji Bati player Pio Seci and former Fiji Bati player Jone Wesele at the church service in Nabua on Sunday, September 18, 2022. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

The Vodafone Fiji Bati’s Rugby League World Cup campaign has hit a road bump with head coach Jo Rabele confirming several key players playing in the National Rugby League have pulled out of the squad because of injury.

The injury list includes State of Origin forwards Daniel Saifiti and Tariq Sims, Auckland Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya, Knights forward Jacob Saifiti, Jo Lovodua and Kane Evans.

Rabele is also awaiting confirmation from rampaging Parramatta Eels prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Hull Kingston Rovers forward Korbin Sims on their availability for the Bati.

Campbell-Gillard is currently tied up with the Eels who play in the NRL preliminary final against the Queensland Cowboys on Saturday.

He will play alongside Bati players Waqa Blake and Maika Sivo.

Rabele brushed aside the non-availability of the players and says he has roped in replacements, which include France-based and former Nabua Broncos player Ratu Jowasa Tubailagi.

“We are still awaiting confirmation on two players, Korbin Sims and Reagan Campbell-Gillard. The last day of their confirmation was on Saturday but we still haven’t received anything from them,” he said.

“It (injuries) hasn’t affected our preparation and we have brought in players who played in the June Test (against Papua New Guinea) to replace them.

“Taniela Sadrugu, Kaylen Miller who played in the June Test are included in the 24-member squad.”

Meanwhile, Rabele will leave for Australia this week to join his players.

“We will present our traditional i-tatau to the President and we will depart on Wednesday for Australia where we will meet up with the other players.

“The first thing on our program is to review our match against Papua New Guinea and set out a game plan before our warm-up match against England on October 7 and then we will take on Australia.

“We still have Apisai Koroisau’s name on the list hoping that if he doesn’t make it to the Australian team, he can join us.

“Plans are in place to meet the players, issue their game kits and on Sunday, we fly off to England.”

The Bati open their RLWC campaign against Australia on October 15 in Hull.

Meanwhile, Rabele, team manager Tevita Koroisaya, Pio Seci and Jone Wesele were farewelled during a church service in Nabua, Suva yesterday.

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