Bati give Hayne their blessing
Fijian rugby league players and coaches have sent their best wishes to one-time Fijian World Cup player Jarryd Hayne following his courageous decision to try his luck in America and the NFL.
Fijian captain Wes Naiqama sent his good wishes and Bati assistant coach and rugby league legend Petero Civoniceva said everyone was excited for Hayne.
After accepting the Hayne-Mannah Cup following Fiji's tough 40-28 victory over Lebanon last Sunday at Remondis Stadium, Naiqama offered his praises to Hayne on behalf of the rest of the squad.
Civoniceva also had "no doubt" the former Parramatta fullback will experience success in the US.
"No doubt he will be sorely missed in our game but he has done everything possible and he's been such a wonderful player for so many years and I think all our best wishes go with Jarryd Hayne," Civoniceva told NRL.com.
"Everyone is really excited to see if he can do it and he is the type of guy that can do it. He is just a great bloke on and off the football field and he has a great attitude.
"Jarryd has always been a great inspiration and the fact he is trying something completely different will mean he will become a great [role] model for our young players.
"He has inspired so many for what he has done in our game and no doubt he'll go over and inspire more with what he is going to do in America."
It is Hayne's courageous move which Civoniceva hopes will encourage young Fijians, among other impressionable players, to take their windows of opportunity when they present themselves.
Using Fijian flyers Semi Radradra from Parramatta and Penrith's Eto Nabuli as examples, Civoniceva said the future is bright for Fiji as a national team and their individual presence throughout the NRL.
"If there are opportunities in sport then you have to go for them. It is no good second guessing yourself and I think Jarryd has showed that he's passionate about something and he wanted to do it so he's gone and done that," Civoniceva said.
"I think for all rugby league players they will be looking at Jarryd to see if he can make a success of this.
"All we have to keep doing is open up these windows to give young Fijians an opportunity... Eto Nabuli's is a fantastic story, and others like Semi Radradra.
"Radradra has gone from being a rugby union player and not knowing too much about rugby league to being the winger of the year and highest try scoring winger in the NRL [in 2014] so they're great stories and there are certainly many more out there to happen."
With the Fijian Test team sitting pretty at fifth following their semi-final appearance at last year's World Cup, their ranking will be further solidified after their win against Lebanon over the weekend.
Fiji's recent success is something Civoniceva, who is also working on the bid and logistics for a potential Fijian team to enter the NSW Cup in 2016, is pleased by.
"[Fijian rugby league] is growing and it is going from strength to strength and its rise has been amazing," Civoniceva said.
"No doubt we will see many young Fijian stars come from Fiji and even in the Australian Fijian Association, we have some great young players here that will continue to make a great Fiji Bati side."