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Wests Tigers winger Kevin Naiqama has thrown his full support behind the Club’s Round 1 Multicultural Round celebrations ahead of Saturday’s game against the New Zealand Warriors — saying it’s a great move for both players and fans alike.

A proud Fijian international, Naiqama said that being able to represent the myriad of cultures existent in Wests Tigers’ Round 1 team and its supporter base was a special moment for him and a move that should continue to be embraced throughout the NRL.

“I think this Multicultural Round is a great thing,” Naiqama said.

“It’s definitely a great move for rugby league, but also for the cultures themselves to bring everyone together with that common goal of supporting your team.

“In rugby league and Wests Tigers ourselves, we have a lot of different cultural backgrounds so I think it’s a good thing that unites all the cultures we have.

“Rugby league gives you that avenue where it brings a lot different cultures together.

“There’s heaps of different backgrounds in this team, and when you come together in a footy team, you can learn a lot from each other and where they come from.”

Having played at three different clubs and represented Fiji on six occasions — including the 2013 Rugby League World Cup — Naiqama said the inclusion of more cultures into the NRL was a huge move forward for the game and it’s supporter base, and continued to encourage the development of rugby league right throughout the world.

“It’s awesome, particularly to see lots of Fijians come into the game too,” he said.

“I remember when I was young, I only really knew of my brother, Petero Civoniceva and Lote Tuqiri around. But now when you look and see all the Fijians in the game — you’ve got Marika Korobiete, Akuila Uate, Semi Radradra, there’s a lot of players you can name.

“And for me, it makes me really happy when you can see that and know that there’s another avenue and hope for Fijian kids… giving them a chance [to succeed] because they can see Fijian or Samoan or whatever their culture might be, being represented in their NRL side. That’s really great to see and I hope that it continues as it has been.”

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Wests Tigers respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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