Kali's tale of Raiders tapes that inspired his league dream
FASSIFERN hooker Kaliova Nauqe used to wait for the video tapes of Canberra Raiders games to be mailed home every week when he was a young boy growing up in Fiji.
Also a halfback, the Fijian World Cup representative could not wait to watch his idol Ricky Stuart, and his uncle Noa Nadruku.
"Dad's brother is Noa Nadruku and he used to play with Ricky Stuart, Laurie Daley, Brett Mullins and Mal Meninga in Canberra,” Nauqe said.
"I was around nine years old when they won it (in 1994). Back then there were no DVDs, just tapes.
"My uncle would send them over to Fiji and I would watch them.
"I knew (Nadruku) back home in Fiji and I just loved to watch Canberra and the way they played.
"Noa still rings me to see how my games are going before games.”
Nauqe is well known for punching above his weight.
When he hits in a tackle, the attackers stay hit and they stay sore.
There is a back story to explaining why that is the case.
The young Nauqe was frightened out of his wits as a youth not to aim up, as he revealed to the QT.
"Every time we got scared on the field my dad (Vili) and Noa Nadruku would say 'you better tackle hard or else you are going to get whipped with a stick',” he grinned.
"That is back when I was playing under 10s, 11s and 12s. They said if I wanted to play rugby league I had to be tough.
"When we were small we were told that if we weren't hard and we weren't tough we would have to play some other game.”
Nauqe said he relished his representation in the Fijian World Cup squads in 2008 and 2013.
"I'd like to play again this year,” he said.
Naque played halfback in Fassifern's 2012 grand final triumph and wants to repeat the result.
"It was a good feeling to win,” the 32-year-old said.
"Last year we lost in the preliminary final but we are back in the grand final again and I can't wait.
"The boys are coming together at training.
"I have been here for seven years now. I came out here in 2008 and then came back in 2010.”
When club president Kent West tells Nauqe to do something he listens.
The Fijian international works for West, and is a handy recruiter.
The reason try-scoring sensation Leveni Kurimalawai is at the club is largely due to Nauqe's local knowledge.
"Kent told me to get a brother from Fiji,” Nauqe grinned.
"I said to him 'I have a brother in Fiji, and he can play'.
"Kent said: 'I want him to come and play with us'.
"Leveni is playing good. He is a Sevens rugby union player and with one-on-one defenders he would just run around everyone.
"I love playing with him.”
Fassifern mentor Daniel Roos also loves coaching Nauqe, who had a stellar match in the preliminary final win over Norths.
Nauqe scored a crucial try in the first half. It gave the Bombers a 16-12 lead and they were not headed.
"Kali can create opportunities nobody else can and he is a very smart and tough footballer,” Roos said. "He can come up with that big hit in the forwards to grab momentum back our way.
"He was playing halfback for me when we won it in 2012 but he injured himself in the first 10 minutes of the grand final.
"Defensively he has always been one of the biggest hitters in defence and all the players really respect him.
"He doesn't talk much but when he does everyone listens. He is good at reading play and naturally attacks, but over the years he has got a lot better at knowing when to attack.”