Our thanks to Andrew Ferguson for his 2014 piece recounting the story of Edward Larkin, who among ot...
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Fiji A was started last year at the Wollongong 7's. The Fiji A is a development based Fiji side utilising the best up and coming talent from Fijian players based in Australia. Fiji A are trying to develop the players in a view to them representing the Fiji Bati in the upcoming World Cup 2008.
So far Fiji A have played a full international against Malta in which Fiji A won 40 -24 (captained by former Canberra Raider Tabua Cakacaka) played at Melita Stadium in Sydney's west last year on October 16th. Fiji A also participated at the inaugural Oceanic Pacifica Tournament on the 30th of October at Pittwater Park, Narrabeen. The rules were full 13 a side but with 20 minute halves. Fiji A went down 12- 8 to NSW Maori's in the first game and narrowly went down to Tama Samoa 15 -14 in the 2nd game to bow out of the tournament.
Most recently Fiji A competed at the Orara Valley 7's topping the pool but losing to the Sydney Metro Aboriginals 38 - 24 in the quarter final stages. Sydney Metro ended up finishing 2nd overall. Fiji Bati (national side) also played in the Orara Valley 7's and was made up of players from the Fijian domestic competition. Fiji Bati also got knocked out in the quarter final stages to the Maltese by 24 - 8.
Fiji Bati and Fiji A combined to play the Cook Islands 3 days later at Coffs Harbour International Stadium in a full scale international fixture. This was a great occassion for the Fiji A boy's as most of them were representing the Fiji Bati for the first time. The integrated team was as follows:
Note: Clubs were as of 2004 season 1. Veramu Dikidikilati (Newtown Jets) 2. Fono Utumau (St.Mary's) 3. Wes Naiqama (Sydney Bulls) 4. Livai Wara (Sydney University) 5. Bernado Selala (Saru Dragons) 6. Semesa Cadrakilagi (Saru Dragons) "captain" 7. Joe Delana (South Sydney) 8. Setareki Rakabula (St.Mary's) 9. Epi Sadrodro (QVS Blues) 10. Steven Delaivuna (Maroochydore) 11. Semisi Tora (Saru Dragons) 12. Iwone Divavesi (Nadera Panthers) 13. Puna Rausable (St.George Dragons) RESERVES 14. Suli Koroi (Canterbury Bulldogs) 15. Vilive Browne (Narraweena) 16. Jone Macilai (Coral Coast) 17. Gilbert Modrau (Sydney Bulls) 18. Esale Vute (Wentworthville) 19. Rusiate Ratukana (Makoi Bulldogs) 20. Neori Kurimalawai (Coral Coast)
The start of the match saw the Fijians do a feirce "Cibi" and the Cook Islanders reply was just as feirce. The game was a close and physical affair with no more than 8 points ever seperating the two teams. Fiji were first to score with Setareki Rakabula crashing over. Fiji went into the break with an 8 - 4 lead. The Cook Islands hit back straight after half time and went to the front leading 20 -16. Fiji through Semisi Tora scored right in the final minute of the game in the right hand corner to lock the game up at 20 - 20. After the siren had gone, halfback Joe Delana had to line up his kick from the touch line. The crowd were on the edge of there seats in anticipation. Joe striked the ball nicely and it just waved away to the left of the uprights. Full time score Fiji 20 drew with Cook Islands 20.
Even though the game was a physical encounter, it was played hard but fair. Both teams joined together after the match to join in prayer. After the two Pacific Island nations finished praying they both did there respective war dances to the Coffs Harbour crowd. The crowd were on there feet in a standing ovation afterwards. The crowd was really entertained and both teams signed plenty of autographs and posed for photos. Fiji's best on the night were big Steven Delaivuna, Epi Sadrodro, Esale Vute, Semisi Tora and Puna Rausable.
Fiji A's next assignment will be the 2005 VB St.Mary's 7's this Saturday the 12th of February at St.Mary's. Fiji A has named a strong line up with a few changes to the original side named earlier in the week. The side is as follows: 1. Hamilton Hughes 2. Max Bainivalu 3. Steven Delaivuna 4. Suli Koroi 5. Gilbert Modrau 6. Frank Waqa 7. Puna Rausable (c) 8. Livai Wara 9. Setareki Rakabula 10. Wes Naiqama 11. George Dansey 12. Esale Vute
The rest of 2005 for the Fiji A team looks like this: 19th of February - Sports Oxy-Shot 7's (Wollongong) 26th of February - Valley 8's (Harbord) 29 - 30th October - Oceanic Pacific Rugby League Tournament (Venue TBC)
Fiji A also plan to travel to Fiji later in the year and take on the best talent that the Fiji domestic comp has to offer. The Fiji Bati national squad will be picked after this game. However the Fiji A Rugby League are still yet to find a major sponsor and this tour will only go ahead if sponsorship is forthcoming.
Fiji A are also on the lookout for more young Fijian talent. If you know of any Fijian players aged between 16 - 24 playing in Australia/NZ we would love to hear from them. Email [email protected] if they wish to represent Fiji A in future events. Vinaka Vakalevu!