Maika Sivo’s dad surprises Parramatta Eels star in heartwarming reunion
12 August, 2019, 5:44 pm
SYDNEY,12 AUGUST 2019 (NRL) – Maika Sivo’s stunning rise to NRL stardom ensured he had one extra audience member to perform to on his favourite Bankwest stage, his father Joeli flying in to watch his son play live for the first time in six years.
Parramatta officials caught Sivo unaware at Friday’s captains run leading into their 20-14 defeat of Newcastle, jetting Joeli in from Fiji and having him march across their Old Salesyard training ground to greet him.
Joeli’s journey from the tiny Fijian village of Momi saw him board a plane for the first time in his life.
His reward was a match-winning try from his son right in front of him, Sivo’s 61st-minute touchdown scored just metres from where his extended family sat in the Peter Sterling Stand.
“At training, he just surprised me at captain’s run,” Sivo grinned afterwards.
“He just walked over calling my name. I was surprised when I saw him.
“It was his first time in a big stadium and watching me play NRL. I was hoping for one or two, it was good to get one in front of him and to win was good.
“I was hoping for the ball to come to my side. The first time the ball came to our side I scored a try so it was good to get over the line in front of him.
“After the game, I walked over to where he was standing. I was a bit emotional there.”
Sivo Snr is slated to stay in Sydney for a few weeks yet, having not seen his son play in the flesh since he was playing under 20s rugby in Fiji in 2013.
Maika has been sending money home to his family to help build his parents a house.
With a healthy contract upgrade being negotiated for him by the Eels and Saturday’s try taking him to an-NRL leading 16 tries for the season, Brad Arthur says Sivo still has plenty of improvement left in him.
“It’s great for the club to show how much we care about our players and get his dad over,” Arthur said.
“He was quite emotional yesterday at the end of training when he came into the session. It’s been a bit of a journey for Maika.
“I wasn’t expecting him to be leading the tryscoring.
“But I had high expectations around how he would be able to perform. We were quite vocal about it early in the piece with the club. He’s still got a lot to learn about the game.
“But he didn’t really get a full pre-season with us so another pre-season will help him.”