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Naiqama inspires Fiji to greatness

Saturday, November 11, 2017

FIJI coach Michael Potter believes Kevin Naiqama's outstanding captaincy is a key reason behind the Bati's sensational start to the World Cup.

Naiqama and his side have been on fire since the first whistle, putting together two commanding performances to sit atop Group D.

Fiji have piled on the points, playing with freedom to lead the tournament for tries scored, recording 25 four-pointers in just two matches.

In that time they have conceded just three tries of their own, with both the USA and Wales struggling to break through an extremely well organised defensive line.

This organisation is thanks largely to the efforts of fullback Naiqama who is continuing to prove himself as a capable No.1 and captain.

Naiqama, who plays in the centres for Wests Tigers at NRL level, is now in the frame for his club's vacant captaincy following the departure of Aaron Woods, and his World Cup performances are not doing his chances any harm.

Potter gave Naiqama a glowing endorsement when asked of his fullback's best attributes, saying Naiqama is a born leader.

"Ever since I've known Kevin he's always been a leader in himself. Even though he didn't have the captaincy early he always knew he was moving towards that honour," Potter said.

"The position he plays is good for him to be captain. He can boss a few people around but he also shows composure under pressure. I think that's really important.

"He speaks well, he speaks rugby league. He doesn't talk rubbish and he gets to the point very quickly.

"His knowledge of rugby league is very good so there's no better captain. In saying that, there are plenty of senior players in this team that offer support."

One of those experienced players is centre Akuila Uate who has returned to his best in 2017, rediscovering his form after joining the Manly Sea Eagles at the start of the year. A World Cup berth would have looked out of reach for Uate 12 months ago after he fell out of favour at the Newcastle Knights and was dropped to the Intrust Super Premiership, but a show of faith from Manly has revitalised his career.

Uate has one thing on his mind now that he is back enjoying his football and playing for his country, and that is a World Cup victory.

"This group of men are very close to each other. We've got God behind us and we can go all the way," Uate told Channel 7.

Whether or not Uate's statement comes to fruition remains to be seen, but either way the Fijians are sure to continue to trouble their opposition as they move deeper into the tournament.

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