Former Tiger to debut for Eels

Former Gundagai Tiger Maika Sivo, pictured playing for the Tigers in the 2015 grand final, will make his NRL first grade debut for the Parramatta Eels this weekend against the Penrith Panthers.

Gundagai premiership winning player, Maika Sivo, will take the next step in what has been an exciting rugby league career when he makes his National Rugby League (NRL) debut for the Parramatta Eels, just three seasons after winning a grand final with the Tigers in 2015.

The Fijian-born winger has enjoyed a meteoritic rise to the top rugby league competition in the world after being enticed to try his hand at the thirteen-a-side game by Don and Kathy Tuckwell.

In one of the real success stories of the modern game, Sivo arrived in Gundagai with three other friends, paying their way with money earnt from a taxi that was purchased by the Tuckwells for Sivo’s village of Momi. It was the beginning of an enduring friendship, which has seen many Gundagai locals travel to Fiji and Maika’s home village.

Since that initial introduction to Australia and the game of rugby league, Maika has gone from strength-to-strength, topping the try scoring list in most competitions he has played in. From Group 9 to the Sydney Shield and Ron Massey Cup, and a 2018 premiership with the Penrith Panthers in the Intrust Super Cup, Maika Sivo, attracted the attention of the Eels, repaying the faith with excellent pre-season form, which resulted in his round one selection.

While Sivo has dreamt of playing in the NRL while toiling in the lower grades, he admitted to being surprised by the sudden realisation of his goal.

“I am excited about making my debut, but I didn’t feel it would come this early,” said the understated Sivo.

“I have settled into Parramatta well; all the boys have been really good. Tim Mannah spoke to me yesterday (Tuesday) and said: ‘just relax and play your natural game’.”

Sivo reflected on the past few years, telling the Independent that it has been a long, but enjoyable journey from his time in Gundagai to his latest club in western Sydney. His ability as a try-scorer has been well recorded, with his various coaches speaking as one when saying that he his potential is probably still untapped.

At 186cm and weighing 105kg, Sivo has the frame, speed and football awareness to mix it in the NRL, his baptism coming against the talented Penrith Panthers; their State-of-Origin halfback, in Nathan Cleary, being known to pepper opposition wingers with his accurate kicking.

Gundagai and other Group 9 league followers will be tuned in via television or radio at 4.05pm on Sunday for Maika Sivo’s debut.