You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Eels winger Maika Sivo.

Three thousand kilometres from his seaside village via the truck stop town of Gundagai, with over 100 tries and a breakdown in Brad Arthur's office along the way, Maika Sivo will make the most unlikely of NRL debuts on Sunday.

Sivo will trot out for Parramatta against arch rivals Penrith at the opposite end of the rookie spectrum to playmaking prodigy Dylan Brown.

Sivo is 25, and discovered rugby league four years ago.

Brown is 18, and was first unearthed at a schoolboy tournament by ex-Eels football manager Daniel Anderson around the same time.

The softly spoken Fijian was picked up in his village of Momi by Don and Kathy Tuckwell.

Now affectionately known as Sivo's "Aussie family", the Tuckwells sorted him out with a visa, accommodation and a start with Group 9's Gundagai Tigers.

Four-pointers have flowed ever since as Sivo quickly progressed from bush footy to Penrith's feeder system, to the point when he landed on Arthur's radar last year.

Emotional Maika Sivo on his NRL debut

Tears came too this week, at both Parramatta and back in Fiji, when Arthur told Sivo he would be debuting against his former club in Sunday's western Sydney showdown.

"Brad called me into the office on Monday morning, I thought I was going there to do video," Sivo told the Eels website.

"But he told me 'turn around' and I looked at the whiteboard and my name was there - number two.

"I was a bit emotional. I got emotional when he told me and I took a few minutes to get myself back together.

"…I called dad the other day, he was at home with mum and they were having dinner. He was a bit emotional and he told mum.

"I was going to bring them over but they don't have any passports so maybe next time.

"I told them last year to do their passport [applications]… but I didn't know it was going to come this quick for my debut."

At 105 kilos, 186 centimetres and with bucketloads of Fijian flair, comparisons with fan favourite Semi Radradra are inevitable.

Sivo wants to be known as his own man rather than Radradra reincarnate.

But his penchant for topping tryscoring lists at Gundagai, St Mary's and Mounties in successive seasons only encourages the connection, especially as he'll be wearing Radradra's old blue and gold No.2 number.

Radradra's journey took him via the glitz and glamour of the Rugby Sevens circuit with Fiji. Arthur notes Sivo's was a different path.

"It's been one of hard work hasn't it?" Arthur said.

"He went and played in the bush and progressed up through the grades. I saw him last year, I was out watching a trial match [between] Penrith and the Roosters.

"Straight after the game I got on the phone to Sharpie [recruitment manager Peter Sharp] and said there's a good kid out here.

"So we've been tracking him since then and he's worked really hard and he's progressed through the grades nicely. He gets an opportunity tomorrow against the club that gave him a leg up and gave him a start."

While Sivo gets his run on the flank, Brown will be front and centre at five-eighth, a key cog in one of the youngest first-choice NRL spines in recent memory.

The Eels have been careful to temper expectations around him. Especially after an approach from the Warriors splashed Brown's name across headlines on both sides of the Tasman.

Moses: Dylan Brown's a classy player

But with he and No.7 Mitch Moses putting hard yards into honing their combination, the reaction of debutants Sivo and Brown are particular cause for optimism from Arthur as Parramatta's season kicks off.

"[Brown] puts a lot of time into his game," Arthur said.

"People that put a lot of time and effort into their game are confident about how they can play and are only going to get better and better and that's what's going to happen with Dylan.

"It's really encouraging for us as a club that we can have two players make their debuts for us that have worked hard in the pre-season.

"I think the exciting thing or the key to it is the boys' reaction when I named them in the team.

"They were over the moon. They were very excited and nice and cheerful about it."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

View All Partners