Naiqama keen to finish on a high at Wests Tigers
Wests Tigers back Kevin Naiqama says he is relieved his future is sorted and is hoping to make his final season in the NRL a positive one.
The former Knight and Panther is in his eighth season and fourth at Concord during which he has evolved into a genuine leader and the captain of Fiji.
The chance for a three-year deal at St Helens was too much for the 29-year-old to pass up.
"Getting that sorted was really good and I guess the security there for three years [was the appeal]," Naiqama told NRL.com after his team's 24-16 loss to Cronulla on Sunday.
"And just the opportunity to go play in the Super League but also to travel and see that side of the world."
Naiqama has no shortage of mates to call upon for advice about playing in the northern hemisphere, which current teammates Corey Thompson and Mahe Fonua having only returned to the NRL from the Super League this year.
"I've been picking their brain about it, what it was like living there, they gave us a few tips which was good and what to be aware of," Naiqama said.
"They got to see the other side of the world, rugby league gives you opportunities like that so it's great I get the opportunity to go see that side of the world just by playing something I love."
Sunday's game was Naiqama's first back in the top grade after a month-long stint in reserve grade, which coincided with his future being settled away from the club.
However Naiqama said he wasn't worried about the move counting against him at the selection table.
"For myself it's just putting my best foot forward. It's the person I am, I can't turn up to training with a day wasted dropping my head," Naiqama said.
"As long as I know I'm putting my best foot forward I'm happy with whatever comes from that.
"I spoke to [coach] Ivan [Cleary] about that and made it clear that while this is my last year, ultimately I want to be in the 17 but also make the most of it and try and be there around September, that's obviously the goal. We just have to continue to work hard."
Naiqama said while he was relieved to get the recall to first grade after a stint out it was disappointing a second-half fade out cost his team the win.
Naiqama isn't the only player to be rotated into reserve grade for a spell, with the likes of David Nofoaluma, Mahe Fonua, Tui Lolohea, Sauaso Sue, Tim Grant, Jacob Liddle all having to bide their time for the Magpies at different stages.
"It's a good thing across the board from the forwards and the backs, [Cleary] keeps everyone accountable," Naiqama said.
"It's why we're playing better than we have in previous years, there's a lot of depth in the squad so if you're not doing the job, there's always someone there pressing their claims in reserve grade so it's a good thing. It's been our problem, not having enough depth."
Naiqama also has a Test match with Fiji coming up in the representative weekend to look forward to.
"It's always a great opportunity to play for your country. I've been talking to a few of the boys and obviously all of them are looking forward to getting into camp and spending the week together," Naiqama said.
Naiqama was hopeful that the playing group's dissatisfaction with Bati's governing body, the Fijian National Rugby League, was on the wane following delayed World Cup payments to the players.
"It's still a bit up in the air. We have to give it a bit of time, it's going to be a long process to fix," he said.
"It's not an overnight thing. The main thing is if we keep them accountable, because they have no one to answer to, so if the playing group if keeping them accountable I feel like it's in good stead which is what we've been trying to do and that can only be a good thing moving forward."