20 Jun 2019

Sport: Fiji Bulikula "creating history" in first ever women's league test

8:45 am on 20 June 2019

The Fiji women's rugby league team will create history on Saturday when they take to the field in their first ever international match.

The Bulikula team will take on the Papua New Guinea Orchids in the first match of the Pacific Test Invitational in Sydney.

The Fiji Bulikula squad to face Papua New Guinea.

The Fiji Bulikula squad to face Papua New Guinea. Photo: Facebook/Fiji Bati

The players assembled in camp on Monday but head coach Adrian Vowles doesn't expect the magnitude of what is happening to fully hit the players until game-day.

"It's amazing and I think the enormity of the occasion will probably sink in a little bit to the girls when they line up on Saturday and walk out on the field. I think it will probably sink in there that they're creating history for Fiji," Adrian Vowles said.

The Bulikula squad is an even mix of nine players from Fiji and nine from Australia, with front rower CJ Sims to earn her first cap for Fiji two hours before younger brother Korbin runs out on the same field for the Fiji Bati against Lebanon.

Locally-based trio Timaima Ravisa, Roela Radiniyavuni and Jiowana Sautu are all part of the extended New Zealand Warriors women's squad, after travelling from Fiji to attend the trials.

Fiji's Roela Radiniyavuni scored two tries on day one.

Roela Radiniyavuni (pictured), Timaima Ravisa and Jiowana Sautu all previously represented Fiji in sevens rugby. Photo: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

Adrian Vowles believes there's a number of other players in the Fiji team that are capable of playing in the NRL Women's Premiership.

"That's probably the beauty of these games is that they're on the big stage so to speak so they'll get an opportunity for be it the Warriors or even the Australian clubs to have a look at them and show their wares," said Mr Vowles.

"because that would be a great stepping stone and be good if we could get more than three of the girls, particularly the Fiji (based) girls out into that Warriors set-up."

Adrian Vowles (R) during his time as Jillaroos assistant coach.

Adrian Vowles (R) during his time as Jillaroos assistant coach. Photo: Supplied/NRL Photos

The 'Bulikula' name was chosen by the late Fiji NRL Chairman, Peni Musunamasi, who died last month after a short illness.

Adrian Vowles said he was a big supporter of the women's programme and is still very much in their thoughts.

"It's important that we do Peni's name justice and (he was) very much loved in Fiji Rugby League and Fiji in general and we'd like to get the right result for him and hopefully we can do that," he said.

Fiji won't have it easy in their inaugural clash against a PNG team that took part in the 2017 Women's Rugby League World Cup and has also played Australia in each of the last two years.

Adrian Vowles said it would be a big test but will let Fiji know exactly where they stand in the international game.

Fiji squad:

1. Timaima Ravisa, 2. Asena Rokomarama, 3. Roela Radiniyavuni, 4. Merewairita Nai, 5. Tanika Marshall, 6. Asipau Mafi, 7. Patricia Raikadroka, 8. Losena Qiolevu, 9. Limaina Wai, 10. Vilisi Vakaloloma, 11. Teaghan Hartigan, 12. Jiowana Sautu, 13. Sere Naitokatoka, 14. Josephine Maejiers, 15. Canecia (CJ) Sims, 16. Eloise Vunakece, 17. Ateca Leiyamo, 18. Aliti Namoce.