It's a welcome return to Australia for Sydney Roosters recruit Kevin Naiqama, who is aiming to add his own unique skill set to an already striking backline for season 2022.
After spending the last three seasons in the north of England helping St Helens to a treble of championships, the opportunity to Australia to spend quality time with family - and take in some of the sun's rays - was Naiqama's priority.
“Really good, I’ve missed it a lot,” he admitted.
“Me and my wife have been in England for the last couple of years and I guess our situation was heightened with wanting to come back, and we haven’t been able to for the last two years.
“Being back here with our family and friends has been a great reunion and I’m really spending time with them over the time we’ve missed out with them. So it’s been really good in the circumstances.
“I can’t forget the weather too. It was snowing before we left so to experience the complete opposite of that is really refreshing as well.”
They are a great organisation, they’ve been very successful over the years and I want to add value to that and help wherever I can to help the team achieve the success it wants to achieve.Kevin Naiqama On the Roosters
Despite being a 32-year-old veteran with nearly 200 games worth of experience in the NRL and Super League that spans over more than a decade, Naiqama believes he still has plenty to learn from his new teammates, who he says has made the transition back to Sydney all the more easier.
“It’s been amazing to be honest, they’re awesome blokes,” Naiqama beamed.
“The boys have been really welcoming which has made that transition really easy for myself. I’m still getting to know the squad but from the players to the coaching staff, everyone has been really welcoming.
“I’ve just been enjoying my time here so far and I’m also keen to spend more time with the boys and to get to know them a bit more as well. All my career, I’ve played against them so it’s been great to get to know those boys and train with them.
Naiqama: "I Want to Bring Value to the Team"
“I know I’m a bit older but I feel like I’m learning from all the young boys as well. It’s been great training with them and to develop relationships and build those connections with those boys.
“For me it makes me feel really welcomed and part of the team.”
As a proud Fijian, Naiqama also has close ties to the Club's associate team, the Kaiviti Silktails, who are coincidentally coached by older brother Wes.
The association is a special one for the Fiji Bati captain, who has cited it as a much-needed boost to the development of the international game.
“It’s great, my brother obviously coaches the Silktails,” he explained.
“It’s been a great thing for the boys back in Fiji. It’s a pathway where they get an opportunity – a great example of that is young Vuate (Karawalevu) who is training with us as well.
“That’s the purpose of why this team was created and we’re seeing the fruits of that and hopefully more players like that can continue to experience that.
“It’s a great relationship that the Roosters have. I know for those boys it’s an amazing experience."
Although he may keep his cards close to his chest, the Harry Sunderland Medallist's desire for more silverware burns brightly - particularly coming off one of the most successful periods in Super League history.
The boys have been really welcoming which has made that transition really easy for myself. I’m still getting to know the squad but from the players to the coaching staff, everyone has been really welcoming.Kevin Naiqama Roosters Recruit
After all, he hasn't come home to ease into retirement or to make up the numbers.
“There are some goals that I want to achieve and hit this year, but I also want to add value to this team,” he said.
“Part of them are pretty big in the aspirations and goals that I want to hit, but I feel like that’s part of who I am. It has to challenge you in a way. If it’s too easy it’s not really a goal, is it?
“They are a great organisation, they’ve been very successful over the years and I want to add value to that and help wherever I can to help the team achieve the success it wants to achieve."