Expect a strong start in this year’s Skipper Provincial Cup competition. This is after most of the provincial union officials had indicated that they have started their preparation towards the March 19 start.
An added boost, is that the competition will run parallel with the Super Rugby Pacific competition (as it starts on February 18).
In an earlier interview Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer John O’Connor said: “We had a request from the Fijian Drua to have the Skipper Cup competition running parallel with Super Rugby, in case they need players to join them when it comes to injuries.”
This is a big lift for our local-based players.
The opening round sees the double header clash- Skipper Provincial Cup and the INKK Mobile Fiji Rugby Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy- between holders Naitasiri and Namosi.
The competition ended abruptly last year due to the second wave of COVID-19. The FRU decided against resuming the competition, late last year.
This is to allow time for the union officials to reset, re-organise and reshuffle their teams for the new season.
This is where players’ welfare and safety became paramount.
We took to the road and ask respective union officials about their preparation.
Suva and Namosi officials were unable to comment.
Northland Rugby Union president Livai Driu said, this is a good build-up period.
“We haven’t officially started training as a team because of the restrictions in place,” he said.
“The players have been following the training programme, our coaches shared with them via Messenger.
“This is a young Northland side and we are not going to make-up the numbers this season.”
Rewa Rugby Union president, Ro Macanawai Mataitini said they’ve started their training under head coach Watisoni Ratulevu.
“This is the second week of our training as we build up slowly for the first round of competition,” Ro Macanawai said.
“Our first game is going to be tough. Some players have shown their interest while others are concerned about their health during these hard times.
“We’ll have another trial next week. At the moment we still have a mixture of old and new players.
“Our goal this season is to remain in the Skipper Cup competition.”
Tailevu rugby team manager, Samuela Tuikiligana said they are still rebuilding their team.
“This is our third week of preparation and we have a young side,” he said.
“We are in a rebuilding phase this time around. This is because a lot of our players have gone for national duties and overseas club commitments.”
Tuikiligana said these players are halfback Simione Kuruvoli, who is now with the Swire Shipping Fijian Drua, Kaminieli Rasaku, who is a member of the Fiji Airways Fijian 7s squad while Paula Nayacakalou has switched to rugby league and is with the Kaiviti Silktails side in Australia.
“We play Nadroga in our first game and we want to start with a bang so we will go in as underdogs.
“Our goal this season is to play well and remain in the Skipper Cup competition.”
Nadroga rugby team manager Semi Cabenalotu said the Stallions have yet to resume their training.
“The third wave of COVID really disrupted our preparations,” he said. “Some of our players from last season have moved on to other provinces due to work commitments.
“We are hoping to start our training soon and the focus is on our first game against Tailevu.
“Our goal this season is to bring both trophies back home. That is the Skipper Cup and the INKK Fiji Rugby Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy.”
Nadi rugby team assistant manager Viliame Serutabua said they would try to finish where they left off in 2020.
“We’ve about 30 players in the squad who turned up for training for the past few weeks,” he said.
“There are about 10 senior players in the squad and majority are made up of young players.
“We will be having another trial at 10am tomorrow (Saturday) for the Seniors and the Under-19s at Prince Charles Park.
“If you are interested to play for Nadi this is your last chance to prove yourself.
“Our goal this season is to win back the INKK Fiji Rugby Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy.”
Naitasiri rugby team manager Maciu Koroiniqaqa said there is nothing special from the Highlanders this season.
“Everything is the same with us, we have been preparing slowly,” he said.
“We know our first match is a double header against Namosi and it’s going to be tough. “Our plan is to give Namosi a tough and clean game on the day.
“The team is slowly progressing every week and we hope to keep it that way.”
Feedback: [email protected]
Originally published: https://fijisun.com.fj/2022/01/30/unions-prepare-for-skipper-battle/