Olympic gold medallist Iosefo Masikau and fellow former Fiji rugby sevens star Taniela Sadrugu have been included in the Kevin Naiqama-led Bati squad to play Papua New Guinea in the upcoming Pacific Test at Sydney’s Campbelltown Stadium.
Masikau, who was a member of the Fiji team that beat New Zealand in the final at last year’s Tokyo Games, and Sadrugu have joined the North Queensland Cowboys this season after being tipped to the club’s recruitment manager Dane Campbell by former Bati winger Wise Kativerata.
Campbell, who was a driving force behind the establishment Jamaica Reggae Warriors, watched the pair play an Oceania Rugby Sevens tournament in Townsville in June and they were initially signed on train-and-trial contracts.
Masikau and Sadrugu have been playing for Townsville Blackhawks in the Queensland Cup. They will be joined in the Bati squad by Cowboys team-mate Laitia Moceidreke.
Fiji will again be captained by Naiqama, who has this season joined Sydney Roosters, with Penrith Panthers strike forward Viliame Kikau to act as his deputy.
The pair are among 15 NRL players in a 30-man squad named for the June 25 Test at Sydney’s Campbelltown Stadium, which will headline a double-header also featuring Samoa and the Cook Islands.
Parramatta winger Maika Sivo, St George Illawarra’s Mikaele Ravalawa, Melbourne Storm forward Tui Kamikamica, Canterbury Bulldogs halfback Brandon Wakeham, South Sydney Rabbitohs centre Taane Milne and Canberra Raiders outside back Semi Valemei are others.
The Bati will be led by Naiqama, who won three consecutive Super League premierships with St Helens before returning to the NRL this season and has played 19 Tests for Fiji.
Naiqama was first appointed captain of the Bati in 2016 and led the nation to the 2017 World Cup semi-finals.
Kikau, who was a key member of Penrith’s premiership winning team last season and is arguably the NRL’s form second-rower, has been appointed vice-captain.
NRL stars not included in the team for the Pacific Test but who may play for Fiji at the end of season World Cup in England include Panthers hooker Api Koroisau, Dragons second-rower Tariq Sims, Parramatta Eels prop Reagan Campbell Gillard and centre Waqa Blake, Newcastle Knights front-rowers Jacobi and Daniel Saifiti and Warriors back Marcelo Montoya.
Players based in the northern hemisphere, including Korbin Sims, Kane Evans and King Vuniyayawa, were not considered.
The squad, which will go into camp in Sydney on June 20, includes four players from the Fiji domestic competition.
Fiji Bati: Tui Kamikamica (Melbourne Storm), Vuate Karawalevu (Sydney Roosters), Viliame Kikau (Penrith Panthers), Issac Lumelume (Canterbury Bulldogs), Iosefo Masi (NQ Cowboys), Taane Milne (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Laitia Moceidreke (NQ Cowboys), Kevin Naiqama (Sydney Roosters), Mikaele Ravalawa (St George Illawarra Dragons), Taniela Sadrugu (NQ Cowboys), Maika Sivo (Parramatta Eels), Penioni Tagituimua (Canterbury Bulldogs), Sunia Turuva (Penrith Panthers), Semi Valemei (Canberra Raiders), Brandon Wakeham (Canterbury Bulldogs), Mesake Kurititoga (Nadera Panthers), Lamar Liolevave (Tweed Seagulls), Netane Masima (West Magpies), Keylen Miller (Mounties), Tikiko Noke (Parkes Spacemen), Waqasaqa Qiolevu (Yasawa Saints), Nasoki Ralulu (Bomballa Blue Heelers), Joseva Rasiga (Parkes Spacemen), Joseph Ratu (Tweed Seagulls), Ethan Robinson, Pio Seci (Avignon), Pio Sokobalavu (Mounties) Maika Tudravu (Sarina Crocs), Marika Turagaiviu (USP Raiders), Ratu Inoke Vasuturaga (Kinoya Eagles).