“It’s good to get some ‘meat pies’ playing for Fiji again, but I’m rapt with how things turned out today,” Penrith back-rower Kikau said.
“We knew we were underdogs, Samoa had some big NRL players in their team and we had a young bunch, but we came out and did our job. We completed our sets and got to our kicks.”
Kikau said there was always plenty of emotion when he played alongside his countrymen, and he was often so overwhelmed he would not sing the anthem.
“‘Kiks’ is such a humble human. He’s an out-and-out athlete, one of the best NRL players in the game, but when he goes into camp he’s a locally born and bred Fijian,” Fiji coach Brandon Costin said. “You see them when the players get together, the whole environment drops down and there’s a massive sense of humility.
“They don’t have to be so humble, it’s just in their upbringing.”
The sight of Kikau stepping off his left and getting plenty of hang time between the posts was a joy to watch just before the break. He still has a way to go to match Panthers teammate – and Samoan winger – Brian To’o when it comes to try celebrations.
Samoan fullback Ronaldo Mulitalo knocked-on in the first minute, and the Fijians made them pay for virtually the rest of the half.
After 40 minutes Samoa had about 35 per cent possession and scored in their one trip up the other end through Tim Lafai.
Api Koroisau remained in Sydney for the birth of his child, and his dummy-half replacement Joe Lovodua was the first to crash over before Kikau snuck a pass back inside for D’Rhys Miller to score.
Kikau extended the lead when he came back in field and dragged Mulitalo across the line to have the Fijians posting a point a minute.
Samoa were disappointing, given nearly every player was a first-grade regular. Manly’s Jorge Taufua picked up two second-half consolation tries. Mulitalo, whose two fumbles at the back led to Fijian tries, also scored a four-pointer after the full-time siren to give the Samoan fans, wedged between a huge showing of Tongan supporters, something to celebrate.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.