Lote Tuqiri reveals secrets behind exploits of Fijian-born try-scoring freaks

Headed by new Parramatta cult hero Maika Sivo and try-scoring freak Suliasi Vunivalu, 10 Fijian-born rugby league stars have combined for a stunning 605 tries, and Loti Tuqiri knows why they’re so destructive.

They play footy with rolled-up socks and plastic bottles.

And from a young age, rugby league great Lote Tuqiri says Fijian-born players are “taught to try things, between the legs, out-the-back passes.”

It certainly works.

The extraordinary feats this season of Parramatta winger Maiko Sivo has continued a remarkable legacy of tryscoring Fijian freaks.

Maika Sivo was top tryscorer in his debut NRL season. Picture: Dave Hunt
Maika Sivo was top tryscorer in his debut NRL season.

Fox Sports Stats can reveal the finest Fijian-born tryscorers of the modern era – Tuqiri, Sivo, Akuila Uate, Suliasi Vunivalu, Semi Radradra, Maika Sivo, Noa Nadruku, Sisa Waqa, Marika Koroibete and Manoa Thompson – have crossed for a whopping 605 tries in the NRL.

This from players born in tropical islands spanning just 18,000 square kilometres with a population of just 905,000.

Tuqiri and Uate were born in Nadroga-Navosa, Vunivalu, Radradra, Thompson and Waqa in Suva.

Sivo comes from Nadi, Nadruku from Namatakula with Koroibete born in Naraiyawa.

Their tryscoring feats are mind blowing.

Nadruku was the leading regular-season NRL tryscorer in 1993 and 1996 before Uate claimed the honour in 2010 with Radradra the tryscoring leader in 2015.

Vunivalu secured the honour in 2016 and 2017 before Sivo was crowned this season.

And Sivo can further enhance his growing reputation during Sunday’s elimination final against Brisbane at Bankwest Stadium.

Speaking with The Daily Telegraph, Tuqiri – a dual international – revealed why Fijians were such wonderful tryscoring athletes.

“I just think Fijian boys have that good mix of pace, size and power,” Tuqiri said. “We grow up with a footy in our hands, having a football in your hands from a really, really young age,” Tuqiri said.

Suliasi Vunivalu is twice the NRL’s top try-scorer. Picture: Brett Costello
Suliasi Vunivalu is twice the NRL’s top try-scorer.

“When you’re in Fiji, you have a licence to be bit a reckless and it’s not frowned upon to try different things. From a young age, we are taught to try things, between the legs, out-the-back passes.

“They find anything in the Islands. They play footy with a plastic water bottle or with rolled up socks. The hand-eye coordination is there very early.

“When you see a bunch of Fijians playing touch, they are always trying different things. But when you get into a structured place with a lot of pressure, I don’t know if that’s the best position for a Fijian to be.

Lote Tuqiri gave an insight on the Fijian stars. Picture: David Kapernick
Lote Tuqiri gave an insight on the Fijian stars.

“There is also footy brains in there as well – knowing where to be and how to counter or get on the end of a break, or make a break yourself.”

Tuqiri is a massive fan of new cult hero Sivo.

“Look at Maiko Sivo’s tries he has scored this year – half of them from just bashing blokes and barging over the top. He has also scored a couple of long range tries as well,” he said.

“Parramatta play with the footy – Mitchell Moses and young Dylan Brown, they like to play footy and get it out to the wingers quite quickly. Sivo has a great fast game mixed with power and he plays what’s in front of him.

Parramatta Eels ‘Hulk’ Maika Sivo takes out our SuperCoach NRL play of the week for this ridiculous effort to set up a t…

“That’s what Fijians like, not playing in too much structure but just playing what is in front of them. Parramatta is just letting him go out there and play his natural game.

“Coaches who back Fijians and have confidence in them, the players come out flourish and play with that reckless abandon and not having any shackles. That’s the best way to be, nice and loose.”

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