Penrith powerhouse Viliame Kikau says his recent suspension won’t stop him from playing hard and with plenty of aggression.
The Fijian’s return on Friday from a shoulder charge suspension will be a huge boost for the Panthers after back to back losses saw them slip to ninth with five games remaining.
The 24-year-old said he was surprised to miss two weeks for his hit on Dragons half Darren Nicholls last month despite entering the judiciary full of confidence.
“If we thought it was that bad we wouldn’t have fought the charge, I would have just taken the one week early plea but we thought we had a good case and unfortunately we didn’t come up with the result we wanted,” Kikau said.
“This time of year you don’t want to be missing games. Every game is important leading up to the Finals.”
The backrower’s two-match suspension shocked the league, with many of the game’s leading experts and supporters expressing their utter disappointment in how the game is adjudicated. Kikau, unsurprisingly, also isn’t a fan.
“I’m more disappointed with the way the game is going,” he admitted.
“Being a backrower, that’s your job to put pressure on the ball player. Obviously, I come up against halves half my size, so I do my best to put pressure on them and make sure it’s legal. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be on that occasion, but I’ll still keep my aggression.”
While Penrith have certainly missed Kikau’s spark in recent weeks, he’ll be a welcome addition when they battle for a spot in the top eight against arch-rivals Cronulla.
The Panthers haven’t beaten the Sharks since 2015 and not many punters are giving them much chance of snapping that unwanted streak on Friday, especially with James Maloney and Jarome Luai both out of the side.
“We haven’t been playing like a top eight team the last two weeks, we’ve been beating ourselves,” Kikau said.
“We played the Sharks in Cronulla earlier this year and we were up by 14 points but they came back to win. We don’t have a good record against them but this week’s game is so important to us and hopefully we’ll win.”
Penrith’s surprise 16-8 loss to Canterbury last Saturday night was just another in a long list of shocking performances in 2019. With so much to play for, Penrith played down to their opposition and barely threw anything at them at all.
“We had our review about the game on the weekend and the boys are holding themselves accountable,” he said.
“Our attack went sideways a bit too much and we didn’t unsettle their defence.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for nearly a decade.