Knights Tap Into Fiji Po­ten­tial

Fiji Sun - - Sport - - New­cas­tle Knights Feed­back: leonec@fi­jisun.com.fj

We’ve found that Fiji is an area that we prob­a­bly haven’t tapped into be­fore, and the suc­cess of a lot of Fi­jian play­ers made us think it would be a good area to get into.

Alex McKin­non

Elite Path­ways Re­cruit­ment co-or­di­na­tor

Over the years there have been plenty of great rugby league play­ers that have hailed from the is­land na­tion of Fiji. The likes of Marika Koroi­bete, Akuila Uate, Su­liasi Vu­ni­valu and Semi Radradra were all born in Fiji, while the Knights’ own Saifiti twins and Korbin Sims have Fi­jian her­itage. In 2016 the club has fo­cused on im­prov­ing and ex­tend­ing its scout­ing net­work through­out New South Wales, Queens­land and New Zealand. Dur­ing the off-sea­son the next step was taken by Elite Path­ways Re­cruit­ment co-or­di­na­tor Alex McKin­non and Player List man­ager Troy Pezet as they trav­elled to Fiji. “Through­out this year we’ve ex­tended our net­work through­out Aus­tralia by re­cruit­ing scouts all over the coun­try,” McKin­non ex­plained.

“We’ve found that Fiji is an area that we prob­a­bly haven’t tapped into be­fore, and the suc­cess of a lot of Fi­jian play­ers made us think it would be a good area to get into. There’s a lot of nat­u­ral tal­ent over there.”

The pair stayed in Fiji for seven days, work­ing in Nadi, Nata­lau in Sa­beto and Lau­toka. Dur­ing that time they vis­ited schools, vil­lages and lo­cal clubs, building re­la­tion­ships with the aim of un­earthing promis­ing play­ers be­tween the ages of 15 and 20. “It was a good op­por­tu­nity to go over and have a first look, and build some good re­la­tion­ships,” McKin­non ex­plained. “Hope­fully once our scouts over there iden­tify some kids, we can have a look at them.” Among other schools, McKin­non and Pezet vis­ited Ba Provin­cial Free Bird In­sti­tute, a rugby league board­ing school with 500 stu­dents. Dis­cus­sions were held with Prin­ci­pal Meli Tora, Head of Sport Alo­sio Momo and for­mer NRL player Wise Ka­tiver­ata on the bar­ri­ers that would have to be over­come for Fi­jian play­ers to make a suc­cess­ful tran­si­tion to Aus­tralian rugby league com­pe­ti­tions. “One of the things we’re go­ing to fo­cus on is the process of tran­si­tion­ing kids from Fiji to Aus­tralia,” McKin­non ex­plained.

“There are over 300 is­lands in Fiji that aren’t fa­mil­iar with our way of life, so it would prob­a­bly be quite full on for them go­ing straight from Fiji to Aus­tralia.” With the ground­work now laid, the next step is to cre­ate a struc­ture in which young Fi­jian play­ers can con­sis­tently de­velop into first grade play­ers, and make the Club well placed to un­earth po­ten­tial on a global scale.

New­cas­tle Knights Photo:

New­cas­tle Knights with lo­cal rugby league play­ers.

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