Fiji stars bound for NRL: Civoniceva - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fiji stars bound for NRL: Civoniceva

By Todd Balym 11/11/2008 05:44:36 PM Comments (0)

Australian prop Petero Civoniceva says NRL talent scouts "would have a field day" if they searched for future stars among surprise World Cup semi-finalists Fiji.

The Fijian-born forward says the unexpected emergence of Fiji in rugby league should alert scouts to begin looking for young talent in his former homeland.

A notoriously rugby union mad nation, Civoniceva expects an explosion of interest in the 13-man game in Fiji following their meteoric World Cup efforts to reach the final four.

And not even an expected flogging from Australia when they meet on Sunday will dampen their enthusiasm for the game.

"Obviously a cricket score wouldn't help things over there but the fact of making a major final like this will definitely get people talking about rugby league over there," said Civoniceva.

"It's no secret the amount of talent there is in the Pacific islands and Fiji being one of them, I think talent scouts would have a field day over there with the amount of young kids there and they have so much potential to adapt to rugby league.

"To get them at a young age and bring them over and give them a taste of NRL standards I think we would see some future superstars come out of Fiji."

Australia and Fiji met in the two previous World Cups, the Kangaroos winning 66-8 in 2000 and 66-0 in 1995.

Given Australia has an average winning margin of 37 points this World Cup, including a 30-6 win over New Zealand and 52-4 thrashing of England, then the Fijians face a harrowing task at the Sydney Football Stadium.

The Batis are much improved team since the teams last met eight years ago, boasting the second-best defensive record behind the Australians at the World Cup.

Civoniceva is wary the underdogs could flourish by playing pressure-free football on Sunday and expects they'll enjoy a supportive crowd as Australian fans cheer for a closer contest.

"I think they will get a lot of support, especially if they play that free-flowing football that we all know Fijians can play and I think it will certainly add a lot of excitement," he said.

Although Civoniceva was born in Suva, his family relocated to Queensland before his first birthday as his father Petero Snr, a one-Test Fijian forward, had an offer to play rugby union in Brisbane.

Civoniceva was offered the chance to play for Fiji in the 2000 rugby league World Cup but missed the opportunity due to a broken arm.

However, the 32-year-old leaves no doubts that his allegiance is whole-heartedly in the green and gold jumper.

"From a very young age my heart was always set on wanting to represent Queensland and Australia but there are always close ties there (with Fiji), given the fact I was born there," he said.

"I've pretty much been bred here in Australia. I'm still proud of my heritage born in Fiji but I'm Australian through and through.

"In 2000 at the last World Cup (I was asked to play) but at that time I was still recovering from a broken arm and I wasn't able to take part in the tournament and the following year I was picked in the Australian team.

"I'm really happy for them that they're in the semis.

"It is a great achievement for Fiji ... I think it will certainly get a lot more interest and hopefully see a lot more kids wanting to step in to rugby league rather than rugby union."

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