London Broncos are delighted to announce the signing of Fijian international centre Wes Naiqama from Penrith Panthers on a two-year deal from the 2015 season, subject to visa.
Naiqama, 31, joins the Broncos having played over 120 games in the NRL and staring 13 times for Fiji since 2006. He played for St George Illawarra Dragons between 2005-2007, Newcastle Knights between 2008-2012 and joined Penrith Panthers in 2013 where he has played eight games after an injury hit 2013. This season Wes has featured in the New South Wales Cup, one of the feeder leagues to first grade NRL.
In 2011 at the annual RLIF Awards dinner held in London, Naiqama was named Fiji’s Player of the Year and was vice-captain during RLWC2013. He played four times for Fiji during RLWC2013 including the semi-final against Australia at Wembley.
Head coach Joey Grima is delighted to sign Naiqama and says it is credit to the new culture that has been created at the club over the past couple of months.
“Over the last four-to-five weeks I’ve been doing my due diligence on Wes and I’ve spoken to some high profile people in the world of rugby league, including players from Penrith and they all have a huge amount of respect for Wes,” said Grima. “He’s holds a senior player role and was part of the Fiji leadership team and he’s the type of person we are attracting.”
“I’m really pleased that the environment and the culture that we’re creating at the club is attracting good players from Super League, the Championships and the NRL. I’m proud that people are buying into what we’re doing.”
Grima also spoke of his fondness for London and how it’s now ‘home’ for him and his family.
“London, the club, and its fans has really embraced me and my staff. I love being in the UK and it’s my home now for the foreseeable future.”
Naiquma says he’s excited by the challenge that faces the Broncos and is looking forward to getting stuck in. “I’m very happy with my decision to sign with the club,” he said. “It was always a goal of mine from early in my career to some stage play in the UK at some stage. Thanks to Joey I’ve been given this opportunity, and I can’t wait to get over, meet my new coach, staff, team mates and supporters and start preparing for exciting times ahead.”
“I got to chat to Joey and his enthusiasm and energy is definitely infectious. He has a great vision for the club going forward and I’m very excited about being a part of the culture and development he is creating there.
“I’m coming over with my partner Jessica and can’t wait to experience the culture and live in that beautiful city.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge of helping London win promotion. It’s unfortunate the club got relegated this year, but I feel the current squad will be better for the experience and will be hungrier than ever for it.
“I was fortunate enough to spend some time in London for the World Cup last year and loved it. Jamie Soward, who is a current team mate, had nothing but good things to say about the club, so in the end it made my decision an easy one.”
Naiqama is the 19th signing for the 2015 season and joins recent recruits William Barthau, Richard Mathers, and Rhys Williams. The Broncos are also set to announce a further high profile signing in the coming weeks as head coach Joey Grima prepares his squad for the Kingstone Press Championship.