29 Mar 2023

Sports news in brief for March 28

10:31 am on 29 March 2023
Tonga women v Niue women, Clash of the Pacific Women's International Rugby League at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland on Saturday 7th November 2020.
© Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

Photo: © Copyright Andrew Cornaga 2020 / www.photosport.nz / Photosport Ltd

Tonga - schools rugby league

The National Rugby League (NRL) competition for secondary schools in Tonga is back with history set to be created when girls will be taking part for the first time this year.

"This is a milestone for NRL in Tonga because girls are now included in a sport such as NRL, which has never happened before," NRL Tonga manager Tavake Fangupo told Matangi Tonga.

The competition will run over six weeks, with three different age groups - under 14, 16 and 18 boys and under 16 girls) will see eight schools taking part.

The schools are 'Apifo'ou College, Liahona High School, 'Atele, Takuilau, Toloa, Acts Community, St. Andrews and Ocean of Light.

Fiji - Fijiana Drua wins

The Fijiana Drua narrowly defeated the women's Brumbies 12-7 to kick-off their Super W title defence at Prince Charles Park in Nadi on Saturday.

It was history for the side winning their first home game.

Captain Bitila Tawake told FBC Sports the Brumbies gave them a good run for their money.

"Yes there was a lot of pressure. I think the first 40 minutes, the Brumbies gave us a really tough time," she said.

"But we got two tries in and the girls kept it together."

Fijiana got their first try through Lavenia Tinai who started it off from inside their 22.

Brumbies skipper Siokapesi Palu said they will build from their performance.

"We knew it was going to be physical in the environment that we have come out to play in with the crowd behind them," Palu said.

"It is such a monumental experience for them. I think we actually really gave it to them, it is a reflection on the score and we are just going to build on this on the season going forward."

Fiji - Hong Kong 7s call up

Napolioni Bolaca has been recalled to the Fiji Men's Sevens team for this weekend's Hong Kong Sevens tournament.

Th HSBC Sevens series event kicks off on Friday evening and Fiji is under pressure to win.

Bolaca, who is also crowdfunding for a knee surgery, has been called up by under pressure coach Ben Gollings.

Gollings said Bolaca has been cleared by the doctor to play in the last four remaining tournaments.

Sevuloni Mocenacagi is expected to provide depth in the forwards with Josese Batirerega and Ponipate Loganimasi featuring for the first time in Hong Kong.

Missing out are Josua Vukurinabili and Jerry Tuwai due to sickness.

Fiji is pooled with Argentina, Samoa and Canada.

They play Samoa at 7.28pm on Friday, then meet Canada at 3.52 on Saturday before facing Argentina at 8.27pm.

Fiji - Jerry Tuwai

Double Olympic gold medalist sevens player Jerry Tuwai has been named the 2022 Fiji Sportsman of the Year.

It is the second time Tuwai has received the award.

Tuwai collected the World Rugby Sevens Player of the Decade award in 2020, has won two Sevens Series titles and two Olympic Games gold medals.

The Sportswoman award went to Rusila Nagasau who led her side to their historical Olympic bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

PNG - Pacific Series

A strong Papua New Guinea women's netball team will participate at the upcoming PacificAus Sports Netball Series in Australia next month.

The series will be held at Gold Coast Sports & Leisure Centre from Monday, April 24 to Saturday, April 29.

The Pepes players named are from PNG and Australia.

"The Board would like to thank all stakeholders mainly, Netball Australia, for partnering with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to build capacity and help deliver sports-based programs that achieve social development objectives for National Federations in the Pacific," Netball PNG said in a statement.

Pepes Head coach Gimanama Crowdy is looking forward to lead the team in for the series and said they have a good mix of young and experienced players.

Crowdy will be assisted by Margaret Opina and team manager Dianne Lahari.

The PNG side is set to play against Samoa, Malawi and Fiji on April 19 in Australia as part of their build up to the competition.

Squad: (Shooters) Goloa Ovoa - Abau, Lesieli Taviri - POMNA, Nancy Alu - Brisbane, Rayleen Andrew - POMNA. (Defenders) Natalie Onno - Brisbane, Shannaz Apelis - POMNA, Jade Pitt - Brisbane, Alu Irau - POMNA. (Mid-courts) Michaela Kadlecek - Cairns, Yves Chee - Brisbane, Waisame Andrew - POMNA, Milly Chee - Brisbane, Tikimai Vele - Brisbane, Jacklyn Lahari - POMNA and Neritha Adula - POMNA.

Pacific - rugby league

The NRL will see some change in players over the next few months, heading into 2024.

NRL News has reported that Panthers skipper Isaah Yeo has signed a contract extension to remain at Penrith until the end of the 2027 season.

Already contracted for the 2023 and 2024 seasons, the two-time premiership winner has committed his future to the club for an additional three years.

The Titans have signed winger Ken Maumalo from the Wests Tigers with immediate effect, on a deal which runs through until the end of the 2025 season.

The announcement followed the club and winger/centre Patrick Herbert mutually agreeing to part ways, effective immediately.

The Sea Eagles have extended the contract of winger Christian Tuipulotu for a further season.

Signed until the end of 2024, the Sea Eagles have upgraded and extended the contract of the 22-year-old until the end of 2025.

Joseph Suaali'i has confirmed to the Roosters that he will depart the club at the end of 2024 to take up a contract with Australian rugby union.

Suaali'i currently has a player option in his contract for 2024 having taken up a similar option for 2023.

Warriors winger Edward Kosi has signed a new two-year deal that will keep him at Mt Smart Stadium until at least the end of 2025.

And Titans forward David Fifita has ended months of speculation surrounding his future by re-signing with the club on a new three-year deal until the end of 2026.

Pacific - MMA prospect

One of Australia's most exciting Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) prospects, Isi - the Dox - Fitikefu, is a former NRL prospect.

Fitikefu had a surprise split decision loss to Kyrgzstan champion fighter Ruslan Emilbek Uulu last year, and is looking to make up for that when he faces Brazilian fighter Valmir Da Silva on April 22.

A former NRL prospect for the Cronulla Sharks, Fitikefu said MMA is a more demanding sport than rugby league.

"In combat sports, you know you are going to get hit hard," he said.

"The training is more intense in combat sports. In rugby league, you can hide behind the other player but you get exposed in combat sports. You have one little breather, they jump on you like a tiger."

Fitikefu's fight against Silva will take place in Singapore as one of several non-title bouts in the ONE Fight 9 event.