‘Naiqama capable of captaining Tigers’

SYDNEY – Former Wests Tigers captain Aaron Woods has endorsed Fiji skipper Kevin Naiqama as the man to succeed him at the NRL club next season.

Tigers coach Ivan Cleary is yet to settle on a new captain following the prop’s switch to Canterbury, but the conundrum is potentially resolving itself throughout the World Cup with Naiqama having led Fiji to a semi-final following Saturday’s unprecedented win over heavyweights New Zealand. Close teammates Woods and Naiqama will lock horns in Brisbane on Friday with Fiji standing in the way of Mal Meninga’s Kangaroos and a 14th World Cup final.

The pair played for three seasons alongside each other at the Tigers, and Woods said the 28-year-old’s efforts during the World Cup proved he was capable of captaining in club land.

“Kevvy’s a leader at the Wests Tigers, he always has been,” Woods said.

“Not many people see what he does away from the game, how he prepares to get his body right for the game and the study he does with the video and through our sessions, he’s pretty vocal.

“It’s no surprise for me to see how well Kevvy’s going, but it’s good for everyone else to see it.

“To see him captain his country, he’s a very proud Fijian, he always goes back there at the end of every season. If we get a five, six-day break during the year he’ll go over there. Just to see the way he spoke after the game, he’s got teary eyes.

“They’re a second-tier side and to beat New Zealand the first time they played them in a World Cup, I’m very proud of Kevin.

“He’s an absolute professional and deserves every moment he’s getting. It’s going to be difficult playing against him on the weekend being a really close mate, but we’ve got a job to do.”

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