Fan favourite Viliame Kikau will play his final home game in Penrith colours this Friday night, and he’s hoping to go out on a high.
While the 27-year-old admits he’s not thinking too much about his next chapter at the Bulldogs just yet, the 195cm powerhouse backrower is in the mood to reflect on his time at the foot of the Mountains and the impact the club has had on both his life and career.
“I haven’t really been thinking too much about me leaving yet to be honest. I’m just focused on what I have to do at Penrith first and foremost,” Kikau told Extra Time on Wednesday.
“It’s been incredible the last seven years here. I played my first NRL game for this club and have played many home games in front of these fans.
“Friday is going to be my last one playing at BlueBet [Stadium] wearing the Panthers colours. I’m just hoping when I come around in different colours next year, I still get a good reception from the Panthers fans.”
While that remains to be seen, one thing that is certain is that Kikau will get an almighty roar on Friday if he and his Panthers teammates manage to knock off the Parramatta Eels and advance to the Preliminary Finals.
Penrith are yet to beat their arch rivals in 2022 – and that includes a trial game back in February and two home and away fixtures.
However, despite respecting their recent form and talented squad, the Panthers are not one bit afraid of the Eels and will be out for some sweet revenge come Friday night.
“They are a good team, they always turn up and they’ve beaten us twice this year – once at their home ground and once at ours,” Kikau said.
“They lift their game whenever we play them, and they’ve been really good in both of those games this year and deserve those wins. It’s going to be a challenge again on Friday.”
While Penrith will go into Friday night’s Qualifying Final as favourites with the bookies, many pundits are tipping the Eels to upset the defending Premiers and advance one step closer to their first Grand Final since 2009.
Kikau is more than happy for his team to be flying under the radar.
“I think the boys know what it takes at this time of year, just from the experiences we’ve had over the last two years,” the big Fijian SAID while sipping his oat latte from Krispy Kreme.
“Parramatta have been playing really well of late and have been scoring heaps of points as well. We enjoy being under the radar, it’s good for us. It’s going to be a big challenge on Friday and I’m looking forward to it.”
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 a decade.