Penrith's Kikau hungry for more footy
For Viliame Kikau, the hardest thing about training is having to drive past the smorgasbord of fast food eateries that serve as an unwanted temptation for Panthers players as they come in and out of Penrith's Rugby League Academy.
The self-confessed biggest eater at the club said he had to block his face when he went past the 'golden arches' and the 'colonel' just opposite Panthers HQ, with the 21-year-old opting for steak during the week before switching to carbs on game day.
It's that disciplined approach that has the 195cm giant playing at his ideal weight of 117kg and now a regular in coach Anthony Griffin's side.
Kikau burst onto the scene in Round 2 when he poleaxed Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco, with the big man also scoring untouched late in the first half to cap a memorable NRL debut.
"I don't know when it's going to feel real for me. It was really good to do that on my debut and I didn't expect to score a try," Kikau said.
His game time has been limited so far in 2017, but his impact has been telling with Kikau running for 144 metres from just 43 minutes of action.
Kikau's form should come as no surprise given how destructive he was in the NYC, with the Fijian representative scoring 21 tries from as many appearances in 2015 when he was named the RLPA Holden Cup player of the year.
Big things were expected from Kikau when he made the move from North Queensland to Penrith at the start of last season, but injuries and a few defensive deficiencies saw him kept in reserve grade for all of 2016.
Kikau admitted he felt frustrated at times last year, but revealed the arrival of former Cowboy James Tamou at the foot of the mountains helped him take his game to new heights.
"It was a bit frustrating for me. It was a big challenge and I had to go through it to do my rehab and tick all the boxes. To get back this year and do a full pre-season with the boys and to be playing this early is surreal," Kikau said of his injuries.
"I did it a little bit of training with him (Tamou) when I was playing 20s up at the Cowboys.
"He had a really big impact on my game just telling me what to do, especially through the middle and working hard under fatigue. I'm really thankful for him coming down here to work with him again."