Wests Tigers centre Kevin Naiqama comes up against Titans’ flyer Josh Hoffman this weekend in what is an exciting clash set to light up Cbus Super Stadium.
Both players have showed strong form in the opening two rounds of the 2016 season, with Naiqama combining well with winger David Nofoaluma and Hoffman troubling defenders with his strong running game.
The pair had similar 2015 campaigns – both joining new Clubs and playing every match for their team throughout the season – however Naiqama managed to cross the line on nine occasions while Hoffman scored six tries.
Naiqama and Hoffman are strike players in their respective backlines, so don’t be surprised to see this match-up be a telling factor in the outcome of Saturday’s match.
Naiqama is set to play his 50th NRL match this week – an important achievement for the Arncliffe junior after playing just 23 matches during his first four seasons at Newcastle and Penrith (2010-14). The Fijian International played every match during the 2015 season for Wests Tigers and was just one of three players at the Club to do so (James Tedesco and Mitchell Moses the others). During his 49 NRL appearances, Naiqama has scored 26 tries.
Naiqama and Hoffman have played each other four times. Naiqama has come out victorious on two occasions, while Hoffman has won just the one match.
The fourth encounter was an 18-all draw between Newcastle and Brisbane back in 2013.
Centre of attention…
Naiqama’s shift from the wing to centre late last year has begun a successful one – with the speedster winning five of his eight matches since the move.
The Naiqama-Nofoaluma right edge combination has been one of the key areas for Wests Tigers this year – with the pair making four line-breaks and also proving sound defensively with a 95% effective tackles (58 out of 66 successful).
What he said…
"It's taken a while, but it's a big achievement for myself," Naiqama said.
"I never thought I'd get to 50 NRL games so I'm looking forward to it.
"This is my third Club, so I'm a bit of a journeyman in that regard, but I've finally found a home here at Wests Tigers and I'm really enjoying my football here."