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'I'm Mika, I'm Maika': Fijian flyers helping kids spread their wings

As Maika Sivo and Mikaele Ravalawa prepare to face off on Friday night, countless Fijian kids have already acted out the wing battle between their homegrown heroes.

For Sivo, who once idolised Votua-born Akuila Uate, it's a cool feeling leading into Parramatta's clash with Ravalawa's Dragons at Bankwest Stadium.

"I've been calling my cousins the last couple of weeks and the young kids in Fiji are running around saying, 'I'm Mika', 'I'm Maika'," he said.

"It's good to see those kind of things inspire kids in Fiji. Hopefully they can follow the same footsteps we did and play in the NRL."

Sivo said his Parramatta teammates have been "giving it to me" about lining up against Ravalawa, who is four years his junior at 22.

"[They're] saying, 'He's saying he's a better Fijian winger than you' ... He's been playing great footy so it should be a good battle," he said.

Sivo and Ravalawa represented Fiji together in a mid-season Test against Lebanon last year and are in regular contact.

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"We always talk on our group chat [with] all the Fiji boys. We're from the same province in Fiji," Sivo said.

"I never met him in Fiji. There are hundreds of villages in Fiji, so we're from the same province but he's from the other end."

Sivo, who was the 2019 season's Ken Irvine Medallist as the Telstra Premiership's top try-scorer, sits equal-third on this year's list with 11 four-pointers. Ravalawa is 13th with eight.

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The St George Illawarra finisher has produced some heavy hits in recent matches and Sivo could be next in the firing line.

"His defence has improved a lot. He's a big boy too. I've been watching a couple of his games," Sivo said.

"I'll be just sitting on the sideline waiting for the ball to come to me!"

Parramatta are third, one point behind leaders Penrith, having won three straight games despite being below their best.

Front-rower Junior Paulo said while the team was hoping to win the minor premiership, it's not weighing on their minds with seven rounds left.

"It's definitely a tight competition at the moment with those top teams. It is a bonus for us," Paulo said.

"We'd like to finish there to guarantee a home semi-final but we'll [finish] anywhere just to be playing finals footy."

Paulo's name has been bandied about in NSW Origin conversations but he isn't getting excited just yet.

"So far it's only a mention," he said.

"It'd be nice if it does happen, but we're just looking to build our performances into the back end of the year."

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A Queensland debut beckons for Reed Mahoney but the 22-year-old hooker is likewise not fixated on that dream.

"I'm not too worried about that," Mahoney said.

"Probably the last few weeks I haven't been at my best but last week I put in a solid performance."

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.

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