Bati hoping Sutton and Hayne will play RLWC

Bati star Apisai Koroisau is hoping John Sutton and Jarryd Hayne will be the Fiji halves at the Rugby League World Cup so that he can play in his preferred position of hooker.

Sutton was a member of the Fiji squad for the 2008 World Cup in Australia but the South Sydney veteran withdrew due to injury and is yet to make his Test debut, while Hayne has not played for the Bati since 2009 but players and officials expect them to be available for the end-of-season tournament.

If Hayne is not chosen for Australia, Koroisau said Bati coach Mick Potter was likely to select the Gold Coast superstar in the halves alongside Sutton, who has played most of his record 300 NRL matches for South Sydney at five-eighth.

"I am not too sure how the team is going to fit, I think John Sutton has put his hand up to come into the team and so has Jarryd Hayne so I think they are quite capable of handling the halves."

"At the moment I am just happy to play dummy-half and play some good footy, so I am pretty excited for what Mick Potter has in store for us and where we are going to go," Koroisau told a press conference in Fiji to promote the October 14 Tri-Series between the Bati, Australia and Papua New Guinea.

After making it to the semi-finals of the past two World Cups, in 2008 and 2013, the Bati are aiming to qualify for the final in Brisbane on December 2 and will field their strongest ever team at the tournament as there are now 25 Fijian players in the NRL and others playing Super League, headed by Ashton Sims.

Manly winger Akuila Uate and Sims’ brother Tariq are other players expected to join the Bati squad after missing the Pacific Test loss to Tonga on May 6 at Campbelltown.

Uate also travelled to Fiji to promote the end-of-season Tri-Series, along with Sydney Roosters prop Kane Evans and Penrith forward Viliame Kikau, and he said the concept was the ideal preparation for World Cup.

"It is always tough playing any team in the World Cup but I think playing Australia and Papua New Guinea in Suva will definitely boost our confidence up, especially going to the World Cup in Australia," Uate said.

"There are a lot of young players in our team and we have got to step it up and hopefully we play well in front of our home town."

"I think Fiji is getting way better than Samoa and Tonga at the moment, I think we have a lot of players that are getting better – definitely better since the last World Cup in Australia.

"I think they are learning and I think they are doing a great job here in Fiji bring up all of the young players coming through but it is up to the coach and the managers to pick a good team to play in the World Cup."

Evans said the Tri-Series, which is the first time the Kangaroos have played in Fiji, would be a massive boost to the game in the Pacific nation.

"I can’t wait and I am pretty sure the Australian team and the PNG team are excited to come over and give it their all for the Test," the Sydney Roosters frontrower said. "It will get more people to become aware of the game of rugby league in Fiji.

"I am very passionate about Fiji. My mother is Fijian and I sort of grew up around my Fiji family so to get the opportunity to represent such a humble and great nation I take it with both hands and I just try my best."

Koroisau, the Sea Eagles hooker, added: "It is probably one of the biggest steps Fiji has taken to grow rugby league in Fiji. To have Australia and Papua New Guinea come over here for a Tri-Series is massive and hopefully this weekend will bring a lot of people out to the game and grow a lot of awareness".

Kikau, who was recruited from Fiji by North Queensland in 2015 and made his NRL debut for Penrith this season said he hoped to gain more first grade experience before the World Cup.

"I was really happy and grateful to get that opportunity to make my debut," he said. "I really enjoyed it and just looking forward to the next couple of games in the season and hopefully getting more games in first grade."

This article first appeared at RLWC2017.com