Sivo’s top award

NRL player Maika Sivo and his dad Joeli at the Bankwest Stadium. Picture: SUPPLIED/NRL

PARRAMATTA Eels rugby league team winger Maika Sivo has won the Eric Grothe NRL Rookie of the Year.

The Momi, Nadi lad was awardded for being one of the top try scorers this season and for his outstanding performance on the debut year.

“Many things have happened to me this year and I couldn’t believe that I was going to play this year because I just played in the half season and I am lucky enough to receive this award,” Sivo said.

“I am so grateful to everyone who helped me.”

Sivo started his rugby league career playing for the Gundagai Tigers before playing for St. Mary’s in the Ron Massey Cup competition.

He then moved to the Mounties signing with their NSW Cup team in 2016, scoring 35 tries.

The Cessnock Goannas had an opportunity early on to sign Sivo, but failed to see his superstar potential. Sivo signed with the Penrith Panthers until the end of the 2018 season, scoring 12 tries in his first season with the club. In 2018, he signed a two-year deal with the Parramatta Eels.

He made his NRL debut in Round 1 of the 2019 NRL season against the Penrith Panthers.

“Being the highest top scorer is nothing because I am here to do my job. At the end of the day I am just doing my work, finish up and score more tries.”

He said the highlight of the season was when his father Joeli travelled from Fiji to watch him play in Australia for the first time.

“Having dad over sitting in the crowd and watching his first game and running out the field felt really special.

“After the game he said ‘Go out there, believe in yourself and keep on doing what you’re doing.’ I am planning to have him back on the grand final.”

Sivo, the NRL reported, could join an elite group of Fijian flyers to top the NRL’s try-scoring charts in his rookie year with the race for the Ken Irvine Medal wide open.

Only three players have claimed the top tryscorer’s mark in their rookie season over the past 30 years, including fellow Fijians Noa Nadruku and Suliasi Vunivalu.

Nadruku was a star for the Canberra Raiders in his rookie year of 1993 with 22 four-pointers, while Vunivalu scored 23 in 2016 with the Melbourne Storm. Alex Johnston is the only other rookie to have claimed the gong in his rookie year, with 21 in just 18 games for Souths in 2014.

The race for the Ken Irvine Medal: Latrell Mitchell (Sydney Roosters) – 17 tries, Reuben Garrick (Manly) – 16, Ken Maumalo (Warriors) – 16, Maika Sivo (Parramatta) – 16, James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters) – 14, Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters) – 14, Cody Walker (South Sydney) – 14.

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