THREE visiting teams from neighbouring Pacific Islands countries – Cook Islands, Fiji and Tonga –arrived yesterday afternoon for the SP Brewery Pacific Cup which will kick off on Saturday in Port Moresby.
Boasting of the services of National Rugby League (NRL) stars Newcastle Knights centre Wes Naiqama and his teammate Akuila Uate, the Fiji Batis will be looking forward to the big challenge in the inaugural Pacific Cup.
Tonga has been boasted with the services of Feleti Mateo from the Parramatta Eels who is captaining the side with Knights prop forward Richard Fa’oso. They arrived in Port Moresby with their respective teams yesterday.
Naiqama, who will captain the Fijians, said yesterday that the challenge would be tough with all four countries battling it out to secure the right to join Australia, world champions New Zealand and England in the four nations challenge next year.
He said Cook Islands were the outsiders but they may cause an upset like they did in Cairns last weekend, shocking the favorites, Samoa, 22-20 in the qualifiers.
Naiqama, who celebrated his birthday yesterday, warned Fiji, PNG and Tonga not to take the Cooks lightly because it could cost them their chances of making it into the next stage.The Fiji Bati 2009 Pacific Cup squad: Iowane Divavesi (Lautoka Crushers), Donas Gock (Cabramatta Two Blues), Hamilton Hughes (Moore Park Brumbies), Meli Koliniavu (Auckland Warriors), Sevania Koroi (Nadera Panthers), Jone Macilai (Coral Coast Cowboys), Ryan Millard (Newtown Jets), Kevin Naiqama (Newcastle Knights), Wes Naiqama (Newcastle Knights), Sitiveni Ralogaivau (Nadera Panthers), Puna Rasaubale (Southern District Rebels), Mike Ratu (Leeds Rhinos), Joe Ravueta (Coral Coast Cowboys), Osea Sadrau (Police Sharks), Asael Saravaki (Nadera Panthers), Alipate Tani (Coral Coast Cowboys), Kaliova Tani (Coral Coast Cowboys), Akuila Uate (Newcastle Knights), Lepani Waqa (Wentworthville Magpies), Jone Wesele (Police Sharks). Coach Terry Gilogely.
Tonga’s assistant coach and former player Mark Tookey said the Tongans had huge respect for PNG, Fiji and Cook Islands and would be carefully assessing their opponents’ style of football.
He said Mateo would definitely be leading his boys from the front as he was a professional footballer and well-respected by his colleagues in the side.
Tookey said Mateo would be given great support by Fa’oso and the youngsters from the Toyota Cup competition.